An uneasy calm may have been pervading the operations of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) over N1.1 trillion owed it by airlines and some other companies operating in the nation's aviation industry.
These debts from port charges were owed PAN Express, a concessionaire of FAAN by 36 airlines, made up of both foreign, domestic airlines and allied companies. However, PAN Express has faulted the action of FAAN to suspend its concessionaire agreement, saying the authority flouted basic agreement entered into between them and the airports authority.
The breakdown of the debts made available to The Guardian by the Executive Director, Manpower and Business Development of PAN Express, Dr. Steve Mahonwu showed that DHL/Landover was owing the firm N255.4 million, followed by Merchant Express, N197.1 million, and Allied Air N74.5 million.
The list also include Base Aviation, N144.8 million; Premier Logistics with N103.5 million; Ethiopian Airlines; N49.5 million; Air France N17.7 million; BTY Logistics N23.6 million; Emirates Sky Cargo N18.5 million; KLM N19.9 million; Virgin Atlantic N18.3 million and Alitalia N9.7 million.
Others are Afrijet N10. 3 million; Turkish Airlines N5.8 million; Virgin Nigeria N8.5 million; Egypt Air N5.4 million; UPS N3. 5 million; Qatar N3.8 million; British Airways N3.5 million, Baltic N2.2 million; Kerildbert N2.9 million; FEDEX N1.2 million; Lufthansa N2.4 million; Bellview N8.2 million; Kenya Airways N7.1 million; China Southern N5.01 million.
Delta Airlines, Saudi Arabian Air, WADOYE, ASL, South African Airways also owe between N1, 500 and N500,000. These debts, The Guardian learnt, may have doubled considering that the indebtedness was at March 2009.
Mahonwu equally stated that the debts have doubled, just as FAAN has not shown records that it has been collecting the charges since it suspended PAN Express from collecting the charges on (FAAN) behalf. However, FAAN has vowed to recover all debts owe her by these firms, stressing that these indebtedness has slowed down the progress of the authority.
Beside FAAN, other agencies like the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) and Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) are owed over N3 billion by virtually all the carriers, with Arik said to be one of the biggest debtors. In a related development, Mahonwu, while speaking to reporters in his office at the weekend said it was not true that PAN Express was owing FAAN by not remitting the mandatory N60 million to the authority.
His words: "FAAN suspended our operations verbally. This is not tenable anywhere, in court of law. We are making efforts to come back to the mainstream. The idea of the agreement we have with FAAN was discussed, test0-run and it was signed in 2000. Structures were developed, where you capture data of import and export and they confirmed that.
"Shippers were caught lowering weight of their goods in a bid to shortchange government. What we did was to approach every shipper when an aircraft lands; we have a way of collecting all the document of the pay-load. Once we collect that, the next thing is to be present during tallying, matching every goods before they go into the sheds"
Mahonwu, who is also the Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria, an umbrella body for domestic airlines in Nigeria said in 2008 when a new agreement was signed between then and FAAN, he disclosed that the authority mandated them to remit N60 million into the coffers monthly, stating that they have kept faith with the concession agreement granted to them. He lamented that FAAN refused to call them to a meeting before they were suspended, leading to the retrenchment of 200 workers in its employ.
Mahonwu however denied reports that the authority generates N400 million monthly since the agreement was suspended, stressing that if FAAN indeed generates N400 million monthly from one source, he wondered how come the same authority generated N22 billion as its Internally Generated Revenue from all sources in one year.