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Air Peace boss decries excessive charges imposed on African airlines

The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, has decried the excessive charges and taxes imposed on African airlines by governments, aviation agencies and organisations.

Onyema told newsmen on the sideline of the closing of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) World Aviation Forum (IWAF) in Abuja, that there was an urgent need for a review.

He cautioned that multiple charges imposed on airlines by African governments, including Nigeria, could cripple the carriers.

According to him, African airlines are made to pay spurious taxes and charges to government agencies, state governments and organisations, unlike other parts of the world where they are given encouragement to boost their operations.

“You will recall that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) hit Air Peace barely five days after we commenced our operations as a young airline and sealed our premises.

“They claimed that we didn’t pay customs duty for an aircraft that is yet to arrive Nigeria, that will tell you that civil servants are yet to understand how business work.

“Unless the civil service in this country understands that investors must be helped to create jobs and put food on the table of so many people, we will continue to have this issue of insecurity because some people are jobless and they will be vulnerable to social vices.

“Excess taxation is one of the banes of our aviation industry. It is one of the things that are stunting our growth in this part of the world and except that is addressed, nothing will happen.’’

He disclosed that the Federal Government had, however, set up a task force to look into the issue, adding that the committee was presently meeting to see how the charges could be reviewed downward.

Onyema also warned against the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration (YD) of 1999 by the Federal government, emphasising that Nigeria had a lot to lose in the policy than any other African country.

According to him, opening the Nigerian airspace to other African airlines and granting them multiple destinations into the country will affect the revenue of the domestic airlines.

“Nigeria is the target of YD. We have the biggest market and that is why everybody wants to come in but it is the duty of the government to protect Nigerian airlines.

“The United States have been protecting its airlines against the influx of Middle East carriers because the government recognises that the country comes first,’’ he added. (NAN)

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