Arik airline, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited and several other service providers in the aviation industry owe the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and sister agencies over N37 billion.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika who made this known, said Arik and Bi-Courtney were the biggest debtors. The money owed to government parastatals is about N37 billion. According to Sirika, “Arik owes about N14 billion and Bi-Courtney about N14 billion as at the last count.”
This revelation by the Minister will likely compound the challenges currently faced by airline companies. Recall that the government recently made it mandatory for airline operators in Nigeria to refund passengers 100 per cent of their money after a two-hour delay.
In November 2020, local airlines debt burden to regulatory agencies stood at N22 billion. The sum of N19.37 billion and N2.7 billion was unremitted Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) and Cargo Sales Charge (CSC) collected on behalf of NCAA and sister agencies.
Sirika said the increasing debt was a source of worry for the agencies. He said the government had deployed a great deal of discretion in managing the situation. However, he said the authorities would not hesitate to go after the debtors and have begun sanctioning defaulting airlines.
In reaction to the claims by Sirika, spokesman to BASL operator of the Muritala Muhammad Airport terminal 2 (MMA2), Mikail Mumuni, has said that Bi-Courtney does not owe FAAN. According to Mumuni, “FAAN is the one that owes Bi-Courtney over N200 billion by depriving the company of its legitimate earnings over the past 14 years.
“In line with the dispute resolution process contained in the agreement, BASL had an arbitration award in its favour. It also got the judgement of a High Court, six Court of Appeal judgements and a Supreme Court judgement, all in its favour and sustained the monetary award.
“The N14 billion debt mentioned by the Minister is inconsistent with the demand by FAAN, the body which has been liaising with BASL. Their last demand was about N1 billion, which was promptly responded to by BASL stating categorically that there was no such debt.”