Ghana’s new baggage fumigation levy highlights Africa’s high airport charges

  • High charges, taxes irresponsible-IATA chief


The imposition of $7 per passenger on each international airline ticket sold and remitting the same to the government agency as a luggage fumigation charge has reinforced interest in Africa as one of the continents with high airport charges.

However, Ghana’s Minority in Parliament is sounding the alarm bells over a $7 charge imposed by the government on airline tickets.

The Minority describes the charge as illegal as it is only Parliament that can impose fees and charges.

Sources indicate that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) is impressing on airlines to add $7 per passenger on each international airline ticket sold and remit the same to government agencies as a luggage fumigation charge.

According to World Travel and Tourism Council, the global travel and tourism sector generated 10.4% of all global activities contributing 8.8 trillion US dollars to the global economy and supporting 319 million jobs.

Tourists travel by air to and from Africa, traders undertake their long-distance journeys by air. Intra-Africa trade is exceptionally low (15.2% for the period 2015 -2017, compared to 50% and 64% within Asia and Europe respectively).

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Not a few believe that air transport would be vital in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to develop trade among African States.

Niger, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Bangui, Sierra Leone, the Republic of Congo, and Nigeria top the list of African countries with high airport taxes.

These airport taxes are as high as some European countries that have met stiff resistance from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Bole International Airport

Niamey, Niger Republic tops the list by charging passengers $162 on regional departure in African airports, followed by Monrovia (Liberia) $145; Guinea Bissau $137; Dakar, Senegal $116; Douala, Cameroon $115; Bangui $111; Freetown, Sierra Leone $109 and Nigeria $100.

International travelers at Bamako, Mali, Antananarivo, Madagascar, Cotonou, Benin Republic, Kinshasa, and Zaire pay $99; $91, $88, and $77 respectively.

In Accra, Ghana it costs $77, N’djamena $68, Djibouti $67, Cairo 467, Lome, Togo $62, Entebbe, Uganda is $57. Charges by other African nations oscillate between $50 and $3.

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While the average amount of passengers paid taxes and fees in Africa is $ 64, passengers are charged $30.23 in Europe and $29.65 in the Middle East despite the fact that traffic is much more significant in these regions

In Europe, only one airport charges passengers more than $100, and four charge more than $50. The reason for this high amount in London is the Air Passenger government tax, which is GBP 78 ($101) for long-haul flights.

In Nigeria, perennial sundry charges that are levied at local and international airports nationwide have placed the country among the most expensive aviation countries in Africa.

The cumulative charges, which on average double European and Middle Eastern countries’ charges, have been traced as responsible for the stunted growth of aviation in Nigeria.

Local airlines would have very slim chances of survival under the current regime of multiple taxes numbering 35. According to the airlines, the charges account for between 38 and 65 percent of revenue accruing to them.

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The pressure on Nigerian passengers and operators is not out of place given that the system also charges a five percent Value Added Tax (VAT), Passenger Service Charge of N1000 per ticket on local routes, Charter Sales Charge, Aircraft Inspection Fees, Simulator Inspection Fees, Landing Charges, Parking Charges, and Terminal Navigational Charge.

Others are Enroute Charge, Fuel Surcharges, Airport Space Rent, Electricity Charges, Apron Pass, ODC, Registration Fees, Service Recovery Charge, Processing Fee, Avio Bridge, Aircraft Registration, and Processing Fees.

The Federal Government had since 2017 initiated moves to harmonise the charges and remove Value Added Tax (VAT) but without headway. The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) via the backdoor had allegedly restored the suspended VAT on commercial aircraft and imported spares.

Director-General of the International Air Transport Association IATA, Willie Walsh recently described the levy of high taxes and charges in Africa as “irresponsible”.

Wole Shadare