Assault on airline workers rises, operator want end to 34 charges, taxes

**Air Peace put losses to damage airplanes at N3b
**Why premium on aircraft high in Nigeria
Airline operators have pleaded with the Nigeria civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for protection of airline workers in the hands of aggrieved passengers whose flights are rescheduled or out rightly cancelled without informing the already tensed travellers.
This is coming as the Chairman of Air Peace; Chief Allen Onyema called for the review of over 34 taxes levied on airlines, saying that failure to rectify it would lead to the collapse of more airlines.
He also flayed high cost aviation fuel which he said at N215 per liter is still very high at a time and consume 75 per cent of airlines’ revenue.
The NCAA had recently disclosed that out of 150 airlines, only eight are surviving; a situation that exposed the danger airlines are faced in the country and the high rate of extinction.
Air Peace
There has been a prevalence of assault on line workers lately with three incidents recorded in the last one week. The latest was one involving Air Peace ground staff who was beaten to coma before aviation security operatives came to his rescue.
Just on Saturday, another case of assault was recorded when an Arik staff was seriously beaten by irate passengers which led to pandemonium at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport.
Onyema in a press briefing at the airline’s head office at Ikeja GRA, Lagos said the airline had had to cope with challenges of having three of its aircraft grounded as a result of two of them clipping each other’s wing and the raming into one of its airplane a truck belonging to Skypower Aviation Handing company Limited (SAHCOL).
Onyema stated that the grounding of three aircraft at the same time, stressing that the carrier has lost about N3b since the incident as they were unable to operate the planes aside the $650, 000 it would cost to fix the winglets of the two damaged planes.
The airline also took a swipe at countries, especially Togo and Cote D’Ivoire who he accused of stopping many Nigerian carriers from reciprocating liberalization of air transport services into their countries.
He threatened to sue Togo if by May 23, 2017 the country rescinds the strict conditions that allow Air Peace or any other Nigeria airline to operate to Lome, describing their actions as stifling competition and movement of trade.
Onyema who also spoke on various issues affecting the sector, especially on vexed multiple taxations, saying more carriers would go under if huge taxes are not reviewed or reduced.
His words, “We want to support this government to succeed. The Minister for State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika means well. He just needs good advice. What we are saying is that more airlines would crumble if these taxes were not reviewed. Some of these taxes are fall out of legislation. Government needs to check why airlines are crumbling.” had exclusively reported recently that Nigerians airlines are faced with 34 charges levied against them by government agencies and organisations in the aviation sector that have made the nation’s aviation rank among the highest taxed sector in the world.
A document sighted by our correspondent from Ministry of Transportation indicated that the charges and levies are apart from the five per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) paid into coffers of the Federal Government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The levies, according to the document, are divided into aeronautic and non-aeronautic revenues and are added to charges collected from passengers as air tickets. Further investigations revealed that 21 of the charges are paid into the coffers of FAAN, six are paid into NCAA and NAMA collects three while Bi-Courtney collects four of the charges from the airlines that operate at its terminal.
The airline chief also lamented the high insurance in Nigeria’s aviation industry.
“Insurance premium is very high in Nigeria because the lessee view Nigeria as high risk. It is very high to insure your aircraft in Nigeria. All the odds are stacked against us. All over the world, insurance premium is next to nothing. All the insurance companies have no capacity to ensure one aircraft.”
“We support the payment of taxes to government but we are saying they must be streamlined to make it easier for us to survive. We are not against taxation, but they must make it a win-win for all of us. We are having 37 taxes in aviation in Nigeria and this has affected airline operations in the country.”
Aviation consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (Rtd) has also faulted the prevailing assaults on airline workers, stating that passengers must understand that it is criminal to assault airline staff.
He described as barbaric and called on aviation security to press charges anybody found engaging in the act.
Wole Shadare