By Sade Williams/Business a.m.
Says airlines owe debts in operations globally
There has been a spirited pushback from domestic airline operators over claims suggesting fraudulent behaviour by aviation agencies in the country over some N19 billion being owed the agencies. Under their umbrella body, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), they have denied defrauding the aviation agencies, and said the airlines business worldwide is not a cash and carry business.
The AON was reacting to allegations that some airlines had diverted money meant to be remitted to aviation agencies for their own use.
The association in a statement signed by its vice president, Allen Onyema, did not deny that some airlines owe the debts but noted that the owing of debts in itself does not amount to fraud.
“AON wishes to state its very strong reservations for such accusations and we deny very strongly that our members are defrauding or [that they] defrauded government agencies of the said amount or any amount for that matter.
“Airline operations, worldwide, is not a cash and carry business. Every airline in the world owes debts which are settled as their operations go on. Nigeria is not an exception.
“It is true that some of our members have very bad debts but not all our members owe such debts. The owing of debts in itself does not amount to fraud. We frown very strongly at the criminalization of all Nigerian airlines as a result of the said debts,” it said.
The statement noted that “various parties were present at a stakeholders’ meeting and the DG NCAA did not at any time use such words to describe Nigerian airlines. Rather, the meeting ended on an amicable note with everyone agreeing to work together to address the debts.
“It is pertinent to point out that some of these debts are owed by some airlines that are no longer in existence.
“We, however, advise our members with such bad debts to engage the agencies and put forward repayment plans. Airlines in Nigeria are operating under a very harsh environment and need all the support from everyone,” it added.