AON Disputes Controversial, Phantom N15B Debt, Insists On Clarity Before Automation
…Offers To Hire Independent Audit Firm To Audit NCAA, N15B Claim
… Says To Owe Is Not A crime
… Exaggeration By NCAA Is Tarnishing The Good Image Of Airlines
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has stated categorically and in very strong terms that it does not owe the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) N15billion as claimed by the regulatory agency.
This is just as AON has offered to pay for an independent auditing firm such as KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or Deloitte and Touché at its own expense to audit NCAA as an organisation and the N15billion NCAA claims airlines owe it.
The body, who made its position known in an online statement shortly after an emergency meeting of airline chief executives posited that t was still at loss as to why the NCAA went ahead to make such a phantom claim publicly, adding that the recently published breakdown in the media of what airlines owe is not only completely wrong but also false.
According to AON, “Airlines don’t pay monthly fixed rate. The rate is a percentage of the fare paid. Secondly, how can an airline like Arik Air with 27 airplanes have a fixed monthly remittance rate of N61, 477,779.69 and Air Peace with an average of 5 airplanes to pay N109,862,633.84 monthly? At what rate were these figures calculated to get a fixed amount?
AON pointed out that even from the phantom breakdown mentioned, 80 per cent of the bills are from airlines that are either out of operation or in receivership with the government today, adding that apart from that, a couple of the airlines that make up the phantom numbers such as Cronos and Africa World Airlines (AWA) are not Nigerian registered airlines, daring NCAA to come open with the breakdown of how it arrived at the phantom bill of N15bn and publish the details of the airlines and what they owe.
In AON’s words,”It is obvious that the phantom numbers cannot ad up. We the airlines are working and struggling to stay afloat in a harsh terrain and made to bear the sin of others. NCAA should come out with a true picture of things.”
The domestic airlines’ umbrella body stated that doing so would erase the negative impression being fed the public as it would reveal that the money they claim owed it by airlines that have now either been taken over by government (AMCON) or is a historic debt owed majorly by airlines that have gone out of business over the years due to the harsh environment, unfriendly polices and the continued burden of multiple charges or falsified account that cannot stand the test of an external audit or a law court trial.
AON contended that airlines that currently exist do not owe a fraction of what is being claimed by NCAA if put to test by a world renowned and international audit firm, stressing that businesses all over the world, including Nigeria as a country, do owe and that owing is not unprecedented anywhere in the world.
“What matters is that whatever is owed is being serviced. Most of the current and active 29 AOC operating airlines are servicing their debts as agreed between themselves and the relevant agencies after the usual reconciliations” the AON said.
On the intention of the AON to employ the services of an independent auditing firm at its own expense to audit both NCAA and the N15 billion claim, the statement said, “AON hereby further offers to pay for an independent Auditing firm at its own expense; such as KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or Deloitte and Touché, to audit NCAA as an organisation and the N15bn NCAA claims airlines owe. We therefore encourage the NCAA to take advantage of this offer and open its books for this Audit to take place so the general public, which we believe have been misinformed will get the true picture of the real situation. The exaggeration by NCAA is tarnishing to the good image of the airlines and as such, AON is unhappy with this unfortunate, damaging and misleading pronouncement by the NCAA.”
On automation, AON stated that it would need clarity of the process, to also know the person(s) behind the private third party company engaged by NCAA to do the automation and why the regulatory should employ a private third party company to collect its money, adding that these cloudy issues need to be cleared first by the NCAA before talking about automation
AON argued that history has shown that a similar shady scheme was attempted in the past between an aviation agency and a third party collection firm called Maevis Limited that resulted in N25billion remittance getting missing and unresolved case in the law court.
The body said that the Presidency had to wade into the matter and hand over the case to the EFCC, adding that there was another N5billion court judgment awarded against the agency for unlawful cancellation of the contract to the favour of Maevis Ltd.
AON said that when the dust settles airlines and poor passengers would be forced indirectly to pay for such missing monies and court judgments by levies or below standard services due to diverted funds.
On allegations that AON is calling for the cancellation or suspension of 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), the body said, “May we state again that AON is not asking for the cancelation or suspension of the 5% of the passengers but asking for suspension of the automation till we have clarity of the cloudiness on what the 5% should be applied to. The NCAA should come clear and also inform the public that existing Airlines are currently paying the 5% TSC and not dodging or seeking for ways to avoid paying as wrongly speculated by certain uninformed individuals and hired public organizations.”