The seven percent surcharge on imported aircraft and spares has finally been removed, airline operators have confirmed.
The duty has been a subject of controversy between the indigenous operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for several months.
Confirming the development, on Wednesday, the AON commended the Customs for the support it has given to the operators.
Vice-Chairman of AON, who is also the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, also frowned at what he called the media distortion of the proceedings of the Senate on July 6, 2021, when he made presentation on behalf of the airlines on the challenges the operators are facing.
According to him, an online medium reported the meeting as an issue concerning Air Peace alone and brought ethnic dimension to it, which he said was highly condemnable.
Onyema explained that the Senate Committee on Aviation held an interactive meeting with all the aviation agencies in Nigeria led by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, together with all Nigerian airlines represented by the AON leadership in which he represented the association as Vice President and made presentation on behalf of the body.
He said, “The meeting was called by the Senate to discuss the reasons for the recent upsurge in flight delays and flight cancellations amongst other issues and challenges facing the aviation industry. It was on this occasion that AON made its presentation of challenges facing all the airlines.
“Our member airlines were present but we made an articulated collective presentation to the Senate, which I read as the Vice President on behalf of the association.
“It was on this occasion that AON presented the issue of the partial implementation of the Finance Act 2020 which prohibits the payment of duties and VAT on imported aircraft and aircraft spares by the Customs Service. Of note, was the presence of a 7 per cent Surcharge on the assessed duties which was not supposed to be. This caused delays in the clearance of aircraft and aircraft spares leading to grounding of aircraft that would have been flying,” he explained.
The AON Vice Chairman stated that after the Senate meeting, the airlines contacted the Minister of Finance and Minister of Aviation on the aforementioned challenges and both Ministers, “as representatives of a responsible government, swung into action immediately.”
He said that contrary to the insinuations that only Air Peace was singled out by Customs to pay those contested surcharges; it was all the airlines that were affected.
The AON Vice Chairman said the present government, in its pursuit for the growth of indigenous airlines helped in getting the Bill removing duties and VAT from imported commercial aircraft and aircraft spares passed while the President wasted no time in giving his assent and signing into law, describing the move as commendable.