The Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will begin the enforcement of the newly-introduced general aviation charge today.
The agency said the charge would be paid by non-scheduled passenger flights.
It added that it would not give any flight start up until the pilot of the flight pays the charge, declares manifest of those on-board the aircraft and also submits the flight plan.
THISDAY learnt at the weekend that NAMA would be collecting the charge on behalf of other aviation agencies and confirmed that Nigerian registered aircraft in this category would pay $3,000 (N480,000), per flight, while foreign registered aircraft would pay $4,000 (N640,000) per flight.
A top management source in NAMA explained that one round trip would cost $4,000 and there would be no other charges, so henceforth private jets would no more pay for landing and parking charges and that the $4,000 include other services such as the use of General Aviation Terminal (GAT) facility and the movement of the passengers from the tarmac to the GAT facility.
The source said: “This is luxury tax for those who wish to have this special service and the money generated would be ploughed back to the agencies in a systematic way. That is the essence of the automation. So as soon as the money is paid it is automatically distributed to the beneficiary agencies.”
The source admitted that there was subtle increase in the charges compared to what the non-scheduled flight operators were paying before but justified it by adding that the agencies are providing special service to the private jet operators and there have been significant improvement in facilities such as the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria that provides the surveillance, improve VHF coverage for airspace communication for safe flight operations.
“What we are doing is in line with the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which recognises that charges should be recoverable. This is a luxury tax for this special service but we know that it is the passengers, not the airline operators that pay for this service, which by their lifestyle and nature of work, they need this comfort. We have an independent service provider that will ensure that maximum comfort is provided to the passengers,” the source said.
But many operators are critical of these charges, saying that they are outrageous, but Nigerians say that anyone that wants this exclusive service should be ready to pay for it, remarking that in other parts of the world such luxury taxes are also charged for this kind of service.
A travel expert, Ikechi Uko, said over the years many people who have private jets and who pay for charter show they have money but government is not getting anything from them.
“It is the opinion of many Nigerians that they should pay special tax to government. It is like using a private parking space; you have to pay for the infrastructure. Also in charging them this money, government is showing that it is not protecting the rich, as scheduled commercial operators are also paying many charges.”