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Airline operators deny allegations of fraud over N19bn debt

Airline operators deny allegations of fraud over N19bn debt
August 31
14:56 2022

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), an umbrella body for local carriers, has denied allegations of defrauding government aviation agencies of funds on ticket sales worth billions of naira.

AON said this in a statement issued on Wednesday, and signed by Allen Onyema, its vice-president.

The organisation’s comments followed reports that Musa Nuhu, the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), had accused airlines of defrauding aviation agencies of over N19 billion.

AON, while clarifying issues, said debt in itself does not amount to fraud.


“Our attention has been drawn to news making the rounds that the director-general, NCAA, Musa Nuhu, ‘accused airlines of defrauding government aviation agencies like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) of over N19 billion while converting same to ‘personal use,'” the statement reads.

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wishes to state its very strong reservations for such accusations and we deny very strongly that our members are defrauding or defrauding government agencies of the said amount or any amount for that matter.

“Airline operations, worldwide, are 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.”


The organisation said while some of its members have very bad debts, not all of them owe such debts.

“Owing of debts in itself does not amount to fraud. We frown very strongly at the criminalisation of all Nigerian airlines as a result of the said debts,” it said.

“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.”


AON, however, said members with such debts should engage the agencies and put forward repayment plans.

It added that all airlines in Nigeria were presently operating in a very harsh environment and needed support from everyone.

On Tuesday, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) threatened to sanction domestic airlines for over N19 billion debt on ticket sales.

The agency said defaulting airlines would be punished if they refused to pay within a month.



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