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Senate directs NAMA to suspend new charges for chartered flight operators

By The Citizen
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The Senate Committee on Aviation on Monday directed the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to suspend the new charges on non-scheduled flight operations pending the outcome of a stakeholders meeting.

The Sen. Hope Uzodinma (PDP-Imo) led committee gave the directive in Abuja following a meeting with the relevant stakeholders in the aviation industry.

Last week, NAMA wrote to the operators asking that all Nigerian registered aircraft engaging in non-scheduled operations shall forthwith pay 2,500 dollars for every departure.

The letter also said all foreign registered aircraft engaging in non-schedule operations should forthwith pay 3,000 dollars.

NAMA said that these were part of measures to checkmate the activities of private jet owners who used their jets for commercial purposes.

However, the operators had complained to the committee that NAMA had contravened the Aviation Act by asking them to pay the fees without consulting the relevant stakeholders as stipulated by law.

The spokesman for the operators, Mr Bala Ibn Na'allah told the committee that if the contravention was allowed to subsist, it would be in disregard of democratic norms.

“The law in Section 12 says that all the powers given to the Civil Aviation Authority in the exercise of its powers to make regulations, the authority shall consult with stakeholders including airlines.

“The complaints of the non-schedule airline operators are that no one is consulted before this decision was taken, ''Na'allah said.

Na’allah, a former member of the House of Representatives also complained that NAMA was asking operators to pay these charges in dollars rather than Naira, the Nigerian currency.

The Managing Director of NAMA, Mr Nnamdi Udo, however, told the committee that NAMA was empowered by the law to generate revenue for the country.

He told the committee that although the operators had a choice to pay either in dollars or Naira, they were not compelled to pay in dollars.

Having listened to both sides, the committee concluded that the recent charges introduced be suspended until NAMA had consulted with the relevant stakeholders.

The committee also advised NAMA to always avail the operators with relevant information as regards the sector.

Uzodinma also advised the operators not to frustrate the efforts of government in its drive to generate revenue for the economy.

“Consultation is very necessary and there is need for a stakeholder's retreat where clarifications will be made and consensus reached.

“No one will allow NAMA to collect levy charges but you must also bear in mind that it has to be done in consultation with stakeholders.

“So choose a date for the stakeholders to meet immediately, '' he said.