By Adekunle Williams and Solomon Asowata
Lagos – The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has disputed the N15 billion debt the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) claimed its members owed the agency.
Capt. Noggie Meggisson, President of AON, said in a statement on Wednesday that the association was ready to pay for an independent audit to ascertain the actual amount involved.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NCAA had recently issued an ultimatum to the airlines to automate remittance of the five per cent Ticket and Cargo Sales Charges (TSC/CSC) to the agency.
The NCAA had claimed in the directive that the airlines were indebted to the regulatory authority to the tune of N15 billion.
Meggisson, however, said that the AON was still at a loss on the NCAA’s “phantom’’ claim.
According to him, most of the debts were owed by airlines that had been taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
He said: “AON therefore challenges the NCAA to come open with the breakdown of how it arrived at the phantom bill of N15 billion and publish the details of the airlines and what they owe.
“It will show a historic debt owed majorly by airlines that have gone out of business over the years due to the harsh environment, unfriendly polices and the continued burden of multiple charges.”
The AON president said that an independent audit would reveal that its existing members did not owe a fraction of the N15 billion claimed by NCAA.
He said that most of AON’s active 29 operating airlines were servicing their debts as agreed with relevant agencies after the usual reconciliations.
“AON hereby offers to pay an independent auditing firm, at our own expense, to audit the N15bn NCAA claimed the airlines owed it,’’ he said.
With regard to the issue of automation, he said the AON only asked for its suspension, pending the resolution of some issues yet to be clarified by both parties.