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Airlines operators react to N42bn debt accusations, say airlines world over are indebted

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Airline Operators of Nigeria ( AON) has  expressed reservation over accusations of defrauding government with debts but has called on its members with bad debts to engage the agencies and put forward repayment plans.

The AON reacted based on a report from Abuja stressing that it owes aviation agencies N42bn and $7.8 million dollars which according to the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) will cripple the agencies.

Subtly admitting some indebtedness, the AON stated that airlines were operating under harsh conditions in the country and that every airline in the world is indebted which are settled as their operations go on hence stating that it was no reason to criminalize the airlines.

A statement signed by Vice President, AON, Barr. Allen Onyema read, “Our attention has been drawn to news making the rounds that the DG NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, ‘accused airlines of defrauding government aviation agencies like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) of over N19billion Naira while converting same to ‘personal use’.

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wishes to state its very strong reservations for such accusations and we deny very strongly that our members are defrauding or defrauded government agencies of the said amount or any amount for that matter.

“Airline Operations, worldwide, is not a cash and carry business. Every airline in the world owes debts which are settled as their operations go on. Nigeria is not an exception.

“It is true that some of our members have very bad debts but not all our members owe such debts. The owing of debts in itself does not amount to fraud. We frown very strongly at the criminalization of all Nigerian airlines as a result of the said debts.

“Various parties were present at a stakeholders’ meeting and the DG NCAA did not at any time use such words to describe Nigerian airlines. Rather, the meeting ended on an amicable note with everyone agreeing to work together to address the debts.

“It is pertinent to point out that some of these debts are owed by some airlines that are no longer in existence.

“We, however, advise our members with such bad debts to engage the agencies and put forward repayment plans.

“Airlines in Nigeria are operating under very harsh environment and need all the support from everyone.”

Aviation

Aviation sector to benefit from RIDF

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Aviation is set to be part of key economic drivers that will benefit from President Bola Tinubu’s proposed Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

In a statement by Ajuri Ngelale, the fund targets strategic sectors like agriculture, transportation, ports,  energy, healthcare, and education along with aviation.

The initiative plans to inject funds into vital national projects to foster growth, bolster local value addition, generate jobs, and spur innovation.

Efficient use of low-interest loans and financing options will secure advantageous arrangements for project financing and operation.

The focus on aviation enhancement involves modernising major airports nationwide with targeted investments and infrastructure upgrades.

The statement reads, “On aviation enhancement, the focus is on the revitalization and modernization of major airports nationwide. Through targeted investments and infrastructure upgrades, major airports will undergo comprehensive refurbishment, including improvement in terminal facilities, runway expansions, and the implementation of cutting-edge technologies to enhance safety and operational efficiency.”

For agricultural infrastructure, the focus includes developing robust networks like storage facilities and irrigation systems.

In port revitalisation, the goal is to modernise facilities and attract investments to enhance Nigeria’s regional trade hub status.

“By modernizing port facilities and implementing advanced monitoring systems, the goal is to optimize efficiency, attract investments, and bolster Nigeria’s position as a regional trade hub,” the statement read.

Key road projects like Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road aim to enhance connectivity and stimulate economic growth.

Rail projects like Lagos-Kano and Eastern lines will modernise transportation networks for speed and reliability.

President Tinubu’s approval of the RHIDF absorbs the PIDF, expediting project delivery for Nigerians’ benefit.

Projects funded under the RHIDF will have a national spread, reflecting the commitment to equitable development.

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ICAO Aviation security audit team debriefs Nigeria, indicates strong outing

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The Team Lead of ICAO Security Audit Programme, Callum Vine, announced Nigeria’s strong performance during a debrief after its Audit.

Nigeria recently concluded the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Security Audit Programme the continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) according to a statement emanating from Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, FAAN, Obiageli Orah.

The USAP-CMA aims to improve aviation security compliance by analysing Member States’ performance and implementation of security standards. It focuses on Annex 17: Security Standards and Annex 9: facilitation compliance, along with associated procedures and security practices.

The event held at NCAA Headquarters saw Vine praise Nigeria’s robust policies and agencies, acknowledging their speed in addressing identified deficiencies without complaints.

He mentioned that the full audit report would be available within 60 days, followed by a 30-day period for comments.

FAAN’s Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku, affirmed using the audit results as a roadmap for continuous improvement.

She urged stakeholders to collaborate closely, share best practices, and uphold the highest security standards in the industry.

The debrief was attended by Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, representing the Minister, and Captain Chris Najomo, Acting Director General of NCAA.

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Arik Air receives Best Sustainable Airline Company award

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Arik Air has bagged the award for  Best Sustainable Airline of the Year,  2024 by the World Quality Alliance and Quality Standards Journal.

The airline’s Public Relations and Communications Manager, Mr Adebanji Ola, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos.

Ola said the award was presented to the airline at the National Quality Summit 2024 held on March 22 in Abuja.

According to Ola, the Award General Committee of the National Quality Order of Merit, said the award was meant to celebrate leadership innovations and creativity in quality management.

Ola noted that Dr Ovie Shaka, Vice Chairman, Organising Committee of the National Quality Order of Merit Awards 2024, explained that the award was aimed at identifying, recognising and rewarding companies.

“The award also aims at rewarding personalities and products that apply quality assurance culture and quality management best practices.”

He said the award was presented by Stanley Ohenhen, on behalf of the Organising Committee and received by Arik Air’s Director of Safety, Capt. Jide Bakare.

Ola quoted Arik Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, as saying that the award is another testament of the airline’s fastidious adherence to operational safety standards.

Ilegbodu said Arik Air was committed to continual improvement of the management system and operational performance.

Recall that Arik Air also won the 2023  Best In-flight Service Airline by the Nigerian Aviation (NIGAV) Award.

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