N1.2bn delinquent debt costs Azman Air operating licence

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Ime Akpan

Azman Air which conducted its first commercial flight to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on May 15, 2014 from Kano has lost its air transport licence (ATL) over its failure to remit N1.2 billion it collected from air travellers to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Director general of the agency, Capt. Musa Nuhu said in an interview with journalists in Lagos on Thursday that the airline also failed to submit security clearance for the renewal of its ATL which, according to him, expired since April 2021.

Nuhu explained that the N1.2 billion debt was the revenue accruing from 5 per cent ticket sales charge and cargo sales charge the airline collected on its (NCAA’s) behalf from air travellers.

The director general said NCAA made efforts to recover the debt from the airline over the years, but the carrier proved refractory despite collecting the money from passengers.

Nuhu said his management held series of meetings with the carrier on how to service the debt but both parties failed to reach any consensus.

He disclosed that the management of the airline had promised to pay N10 million monthly to offset the N1.2 billion debt but NCAA insisted on N50 million monthly from the airline.

“The airline owed us N1.2 billion as TSC/CSC. We invited them, set up a committee for that purpose. Azman said they would pay the sum of N10 million monthly out of the debt, which we refused. They later came up to N20 million, but we insisted on N50 million monthly. If we had agreed on the N10 million monthly, it means it will take them about 12 years to repay the money it had already collected and by then, the money would have lost value,” he said.

On the ATL, Nuhu said the airline could not provide its security clearance, which is one of the prerequisites for renewal of ATL.

“We didn’t suspend Azman Air’s AOC, but suspended their ATL, which had earlier expired. The ATL earlier expired in April 2021, but we gave the airline extension because of the disruption to aviation activities by the Cocid-19 pandemic, just as we did for other airlines. However, we wrote a reminder letter to the airline six months to the new expiry date, which is statutory.

“Later, the airline requested for another extension of 90 days, but we only granted it 60 days and at the expiration of the 60 days, we also gave it 30 days reminder, which elapsed on Wednesday night. Yet nothing was done by the airline,” he said.

The director general also said he would not renew the ATL or AOC of any other airline that owes the 5 per cent TSC/CSC to the agency.

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