Helicopter Fee Stoppage: Airline Operators Commend Keyamo

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By Our Reporter

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, has received accolades from the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) for his action in suspending the landing and take-off fees imposed on owners and operators of helicopters in the country.

Making the commendation in Abuja weekend, spokesman of the association, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, said the minister has shown patriotic interest in the positive growth of the nation’s aviation industry.

According to Okonkwo, the Aviation Minister displayed a great sense of leadership by listening to the voice of stakeholders in the sector and exhibiting commitment to doing the right things and correcting mistakes of the past for the benefit of Nigerians.

He noted that by ordering a stoppage of the collection of landing and take-off fees imposed on helicopter operators and owners, including oil platforms, the Minister has shown deep interest in protecting the laws that govern the aviation industry adding that the decision to impose the fee by the past administration, abused due process and ignored legal limitations and statutes governing the management of the aviation industry and creation of new charges.

“We commend the Honourable Minister for giving a listening ear to our position on the matter and for his great leadership of the aviation industry and support for the growth and sustainability of Nigerian air operators,” he said.

The AON spokesman stated that by imposing the charges, the past administration flouted regulatory provisions of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and even international Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations.

“Despite the absence of any legal framework and justification for its imposition, and despite being so advised by the agencies, the former Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development approved the proposal for collection of landing and take-off fee for all helicopters landing and taking off, on and from oil fields/terminals/platforms/rigs/FPSOs.

He also “conveyed his approval for NAMA to engage and collaborate with Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited for the collection of the fee/charge/levy.

“Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited has been demanding payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars from already overcharged helicopter operators as Landing/Take-off Fee for landing on and taking off from oil rig platforms and private helipads without providing any service whatsoever to the operators,” AON said.

Tracing the legal violations, the AON noted that Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited had in 2018 “proposed the introduction of ‘Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee’ to the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who forwarded the proposal to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for comment. NCAA made it clear that there was neither legal framework nor legal justification for it to introduce such fee, and that aside certification of helipads, most of which are privately-owned, and for which it charged certification fee, it did not provide any service to helicopter operators that would justify the imposition of such fee.

“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which manages airports also had neither legal framework nor justification to impose such a charge on helicopter landing and take-off other than at its airports, which helicopter operators pay just like other aircraft operators in Nigeria.

“The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), one of whose functions under the NAMA Act is to provide the navigation services necessary for the operation of aircraft taking off and landing and integrate them into the overall air traffic within the Nigerian airspace, does not charge helicopter landing and take-off fee for helicopter landings on and take-off from, oil rig platforms, FSPOs and private helipads, because it does not provide any service in respect thereto to the operators.

“Also, ICAO Document 9082 permits the imposition of charges only for services provided and functions performed for civil aviation operations,” AON stressed adding that despite these, the former minister went ahead to impose the fees and appointed a private firm to collect them in collaboration with NAMA.

AON further stated that it appreciates the work that the incumbent Aviation minister is doing to set the sector on the right path by correcting mistakes that could hamper its development.

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