Airline operators reject $300 helicopter landing fee

Onwubuke Melvin
Onwubuke Melvin

The Airline Operators of Nigeria, the umbrella body for local airline operators, has rejected the helicopter landing fee stating that aside from lacking a legal framework, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency does not provide any additional service to helicopter operators to justify the imposition of a landing fee.

Following the uproar in the aviation sector, Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, demanded that the new tax be suspended.

The minister did, however, form a committee to examine whether or not helicopter operators’ new charge payment was reasonable.

The umbrella organization for both scheduled and unscheduled airlines in Nigeria emphasized that it is against section 7 (1) (r) of the then-applicable NAMA Act and section 1, paragraph 2(1) of ICAO Document 9082 to impose the Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee at private helipads and oil rig platforms when no service is rendered to the helicopter operators at those locations by NAMA.

The Spokesman for AON, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, alleged that NAMA did not adhere to the policies, principles and guidelines contained in the ICAO Documents 9082 (ICAO’s Policies on Charges for Airports and Air Navigation Services) and 9161 (Manual on Air Navigation Services Economics) before imposing the Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee.

Citing Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, Part 18, section (e), AON requested that NAMA follow the policies, norms, and principles stated in those papers.

The body further claimed that neither NCAA nor FAAN is a party to the Memorandum of Understanding between NAMA and Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited for the collection of the helicopter landing and take-off fee at private helipads, oil rig platforms, among others, in contrast to the ministry’s news release dated May 13, 2024.

Okonkwo said, “The fee is charged and demanded in US Dollars contrary to the provision of section 15 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, which is clear that the unit of currency in Nigeria shall be the Naira.

“There is nowhere in the world where the Air Navigation Service Provider does not provide any service to helicopter operators but charges landing and take-off fees for landings and take-off on and from private helipads, oil rig platforms, FSPOs, FSOs, etc.”

He added, “The examples given by the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development in the Press Release of 13°” May 2024 of where landing and take-off fee is paid are all of the airports. The engagement of Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited did not follow due process as it did not comply with the requirements of the Public Procurement Act for the procurement of the services of consultants.”

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