• Sunday, May 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Helicopter operators to ground operations over spike in landing fees

Helicopter operators to ground operations over spike in landing fees

Helicopter operators in Nigeria have threatened to ground operations as a result of the newly increased landing fees by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation.

In a recent memo by the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development the ministry of aviation signed by Festus Keyamo, the minister, he directed helicopter operators to pay helicopter landing fees at all Nigerian aerodromes, helipads, airstrips, floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units, floating storage and offloading (FSO) units and other oil platforms.

The landing fees would exclusively be collected by a private company, NAEBI Dynamic Concept Limited.

“It is imperative that all operators and stakeholders fully comply with this mandate, by granting total access to Messrs NAEBI Dynamic Concept Limited for the collection of the levy, effective immediately, Non-compliance with this directive will constitute a breach of this mandate and will be met with the appropriate sanction,” the memo stated.

However, helicopter operators have threatened to ground their operations if the Federal Government insists that they must pay the landing fees.

Ado Sanusi, the Managing Director and CEO of Aero Contractors, whose company pioneered the helicopter shuttle for oil and gas services in Nigeria, that helicopter operators may likely shut down their operations or go to court.

He said that there is no basis for the landing charge because the operators pay for services rendered to them and the helipads where helicopters land and take off in offshore operations and elsewhere are owned by international oil companies and therefore, not property of the Federal Government, adding that the operators pay their due charges to aviation agencies.

“I don’t think it is a good thing to do because the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommended that service providers in the aviation industry, which are government agencies, should engage in cost recovery, but unfortunately government has turned the agencies to profit-making organisations in the aviation industry”, he said.

Sanusi posited that in terms of security and knowing all the helipads in Nigeria, such is a duty of the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Air Force and related security agencies, insisting it has nothing to do with civil aviation.

The operators said there is nothing bad in the Minister trying to increase revenue for the government but noted that there are some “untruthful assumptions that we need to bring to his attention.

Helicopter operators in Nigeria statutorily remit five percent of passenger flight costs to NCAA on every commercial flight.

Top official of a major helicopter company in Nigeria, said that the landing charge is unknown to the law, noting that it is even a user charge because the operator is expected from the place the helicopter took off to the place it lands, adding that the charge is not regulated by NCAA.

“They also insisted that the payment should be done in dollars but our currency is the naira. They call it a landing charge but when I land on the rig I should pay them. Then the Minister’s directive that everybody should give access to the company so that they monitor you, raises another question: what is that payment for?”