Nigeria threatens to shut down domestic airlines over debt, gives 30-day deadline

The Nigerian government has threatened to shut down domestic airlines over multibillion naira debt authorities said the airlines owe.

The civil aviation regulator said airlines owed the government N19 billion and $7.6 million, and have refused to pay despite receiving the money from customers. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said airlines have instead launched a “campaign of calumny and falsehoods” against it.

“The airlines must enter an MoU on how they will pay their debts in the next 30 days from August 30th, 2022 or their license will be suspended at the expiration of the deadline,” NCAA Director General Musa Nuhu said Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with representatives of the local carriers.

He said, “This situation is crippling finances and pitching the Authority against the Federal Government as a government-owned revenue-generating agency, following the dire financial position of the Federal Government.”

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), an umbrella body for all the airlines operating in Nigeria, had accused the NCAA of imposing multiple charges on its members.

The AON in a letter addressed to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the charges, alongside scarcity of foreign exchange and aviation fuel scarcity, are choking the airlines.

Miffed by the tone of the complaint, Mr Nuhu said the accusations by the airlines were “unfair, unfounded and smacked of blackmail.”

He said all airlines are indebted to the NCAA, the Federal…

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