Nigerian start-ups and existing airlines must agree to an automatic deduction of aeronautical charges by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) before the regulator will issue or re-issue them with an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

This was the word from NCAA director-general Musa Nuhu during a briefing to reporters in Lagos recently.

He said the aim was to prevent airlines from accumulating debts in unpaid fees to the NCAA. The regulator levies a 5% charge per passenger charter ticket sale and per cargo sale, but many airlines in the country are in arrears due to hard economic times following COVID-19.

Nuhu explained that the NCAA had attached the payment condition to the issuance and renewal of AOCs to new and existing operators to put a stop to the increasing debt pile.

“We are not going to give you an AOC until you sign the agreement for the automatic deduction so we don’t start arguing after six months. In the same vein, existing airlines that are seeking AOC renewal are mandated to sign the automatic deduction to stop the debt profile from increasing.”

On the legacy debts of the airlines, Nuhu said the NCAA understood that airlines were going through hard times. While carriers would not be forced to pay their debts all at once, they will have to come with proposals on paying them off. He said the NCAA was working with the operators in this regard and would be talking to them individually to find a solution.