Uncertainty trails airlines’ shift to new NCAA platform

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may have rescinded its decision to clamp down on airlines that refused to automate its platform to enable the former recover its N15 billion debts.
The aviation regulatory body had issued ultimatum to the carriers to automate in order to ensure that the charges and taxes are transparently captured.
 But the airlines have continuously resisted the policy and called for its stoppage and consequently denied their N15 billion indebtedness to the agency, a situation that led to bad blood between them.
Spokesman for NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, told Woleshadare.net by telephone that the agency has not jettisoned the automation platform for the carriers, but harmonising and strategising with the airlines before the commencement of the plan.
He stated that the management has been having series of meeting with the airlines while another one is scheduled for third week of this month.
“We are still dialoguing with the airlines. We have been meeting with them regularly. But, we are ready for the full automation of the process. “I can’t give a date of when we will be commencing the automation process.
Many are wondering that over one month after the NCAA threatened to sanction indigenous airlines over their failure to migrate to the automation platform for the remittance of the statutory five per cent Ticket Sales/Cargo Sales Charge (TSC/ CSC), the regulatory agency is yet to carry out its threat.
Rather than go ahead with its proposed plans, NCAA has scheduled series of meetings with the airline operators, who have stated categorically that they would not migrate to the new platform until NCAA showed some transparency.
The NCAA had been engaging the airlines ever since its warning, explaining to them to migrate to the new platform. A source disclosed that NCAA might not be successful with the new drive as the airlines may have contacted some people in government to prevent it from going ahead with the new policy.
The operators, it was gathered, in one of its meetings with NCAA insisted that it would not pay through any third party and specifically queried the involvement of Avitech Nigeria Limited in the whole automation process.
Also, the source alleged that the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had to immediately intervene in the situation before it got out of hand. Said a source: “NCAA is in dire need of money owed it and feels the only way we can generate funds is to ensure that what is due to us is given to us.
“They are not the only beneficiary agency for the five per cent PSC, other agencies are also involved, but the NCAA pockets 58 per cent of the total sum.
“However, the airlines too are looking for a means not to pay us what is due to us even after collecting such from the passengers. Since the issue came on-board, the operators are said to have contacted a lot of people in government who seem to be influencing our management.
As it is now, no one knows when we will begin the automation collection. “Again, they are querying the involvement of a third party in the whole exercise and they specifically reminded NCAA management of what a particular company, Spring Fountain, did with the funds of one of the agencies in the sector.”
Also, a source from one of the airlines, confirmed that the carriers had held series of meetings with the leadership of NCAA to address some grey areas.
The source, however, noted that the airlines would not move to the new platform until the grey areas are addressed by NCAA, warning that without this, the airlines would remain elusive on the issue.
One of the grey areas, according to the source, is the allegation of N15 billion debts owed the agency by the airlines on PSC alone.
Wole Shadare