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Non-scheduled airlines suspend operations over new NAMA fees

By The Citizen

The operators of non-scheduled flights in the country yesterday suspended their operations following the introduction of new fees on Monday by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA).

NAMA had on Monday, in an Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) to the airlines, said that henceforth, all foreign registered aircraft engaging in non-scheduled operations would pay $3,000 before departure as fee for every departure except round trips without changes in passenger manifest or return ferry.

Also, all registered Nigerian aircraft that engages in non-scheduled operations would henceforth pay $2,500 prior to every departure.

The NAMA Public Affairs General Manager, Mr. Supo Atobatele, had said that the upward review was in compliant with Section 30(2) (9) and (s) of the Civil Aviation Act of 2006.

The 13 operators, including Skypower Express, Airfirst, Kings Airlines and Wings Aviation Services, said the imposition of the 'new high charges' would force the wealthy Nigerians to patronise the scheduled operators in their business class at the expense of charter operators.

They lamented that the new charges was exploitative, adding that it was an indirect way by the agency and the supervisory ministry to send them out of operations.

The spokesman for the operators, Alhaji Muhammed Tukur, said that the operators took the action because they were never informed of the new directive by the agency. He said: 'They were only informed on the pages of newspapers after the government had concluded to make the intention known through the media.'

However, Atobatele said that the agency handled several non-scheduled operators yesterday. He, however, said those who grounded their operations were not willing to pay the new charges introduced by the agency.

He said: 'We handled many non-scheduled operators today (Tuesday). It is those who are not willing to pay the new charges that grounded themselves. We didn't ground any operator.'

He also stressed that the fees were inclusive of landing, parking, navigation and terminal navigation charges, adding that the fees would be charged in respect of the first 10 hours after which additional parking fees would apply.