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Customs grounds 62 private jets over tax evasion

86 private jets/ aircraft owners participated in Customs’ verification exercise 

Eyewitness reporter
 
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has grounded about 62 aircraft that defaulted in the ongoing verification of import documents exercise.

Speaking at a press briefing, the National Public Relations Officer of the service, Joseph Attah said the grounding won’t be lifted until the jet owners present their import document duly certified by the Service.

He said, “The Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria has been put on notice to ensure only privately owned aircraft duly verified, and cleared by Customs are authorized to operate within our airspace.”

“Within the stipulated period, 86 private jets/aircraft operators showed up for the exercise and presented the relevant documents for verification.

private jets

“Of this number, 57 were verified as commercial charter operators, and were duly cleared for operations, 29 other private jets/aircraft were found liable for payment of Customs duty. Their values were assessed, and the appropriate demand notices were issued to their owners for the payment of outstanding duties.

“However, 62 other private jet/aircraft whose registration numbers were duly obtained from the appropriate authority were not verified because their owners or designated representatives made no presentations to Customs that could help determine their status.

“To this effect, all 57 commercial charter jet/aircraft operators who presented their documents for verification are requested to come forward to the Tariff and Trade Department of the Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters, Abidjan Street, Wuse Zone 3 Abuja-FCT, Room 312 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm to collect their Aircraft Clearance Certificates.

“All 29 Private Jet/Aircraft owners and or their representatives who have been issued with demand notices have been given (14) days from the 11th of October 2021 to collect and make payments to the designated Federal Government accounts after which they will be issued with Aircraft Clearance Certificates,” he stated.

He said the owners of the 62 private aircraft for which no presentations were made for their verification, and whose status remains uncertain are requested to immediately furnish the tariff and trade department of the Service with the necessary documents for verification and clearance.

Attah implored all concerned to avail themselves of the opportunity as the NCS it will not hesitate to activate enforcement procedures on identified defaulters.

In line with its statutory functions as provided for in PART III Sections 27, 35, 37, 45, 46, 47, 52, 56, 63 & 64; Part XI Sections 144, 145, 155, 160, 161&164 and Part XII Sections 167, 168, 169 173&174 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), All owners of private aircraft in the country were invited to come forward with their relevant importation clearance documents for verification.

The exercise took place between the 7th of June and August 6th, 2021 at the Tariff and Trade Department of the Service.

The documents requested include Aircraft Certificate of Registration; NCAA’s Flight Operations Compliance Certificate (FOCC); NCAA’s Maintenance Compliance Certificate (MCC); NCAA’s Permit for Non-Commercial Flights (PNCF) and Temporary Import Permit (TIP) (where applicable).

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Aviation

Emirates airline suspends operations in Nigeria over $85m trapped funds

 

Eyewitness reporter 

From September 1st, 2022, Emirates airlines will cease to operate flight operations in and out of Nigeria.

The beleaguered airline said the operational environment in Nigeria is suffocating as its $85 million is still trapped in the country.
In addition, the airline said the unavailability of foreign exchange has complicated an already bad situation.
In a press statement made available to newsmen, the airline said it will stop its operation indefinitely starting from September, 1st 2022 till after it was able to repatriate its trapped fund.

It could be recalled that Emirate airline had cut down on its weekly number of flights into Lagos from 11 to seven over US$85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria.

The airline said the figure has been rising by more than $US10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.

They, however, said that the trapped funds are urgently needed to meet operational costs and maintain the commercial viability of their services to Nigeria.

“We simply cannot continue to operate at the current level in the face of mounting losses, especially in the challenging post-COVID-19 climate. Emirates did try to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in Naira, which would have at least reduced one element of our ongoing costs, however, this request was denied by the supplier,” the airline had said.

However, with no considerable improvement and headway in repatriating the trapped fund, the airline, on Thursday, announced the suspension of its operations in Nigeria indefinitely.

The statement reads, “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.

“Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1st September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.”

“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will of course re-evaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travelers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”

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Aviation

Scarcity of forex forces Air Peace to suspend flights on  South Africa route

Eyewitness reporter

Air Peace, on Monday, said it has stopped flight operations to Johannesburg, South Africa effective from August 22, 2022, due to delayed issuance of South African visas to travellers, worsening forex crunch and the increasing cost of aviation fuel as well as its scarcity.

The carrier in a statement on items official Twitter handle said the development was regretted but has become inevitable, saying the situation may improve in 60 days.

According to the airline, they have informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting SA visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads o flights to and from Johannesburg.

The statement read, “Passengers whose flights are affected have the option of rescheduling to fly before August 22, 2022, or from October 9, 2022. Passengers can also request a refund via callcenter@flyairpeace.com and our team will attend to it promptly.

The carrier apologised for the inconveniences caused, stressing that it would keep the public updated while it hoped the situation improves.

The sudden stoppage of operations by Nigeria’s airlines has further reinforced the precarious situation of carriers in the country and globally as airlines are extremely finding it difficult to operate profitably because of the crisis that has hit the sector, particularly on the skyrocketing prices of Jet fuel.

The foreign exchange (FX) liquidity crisis is eating deeper into the daily operations of the local airlines, causing airlines’ capacity to dwindle and hitting up airfares.

With aviation fuel at its all-time high and foreign exchange unavailable to meet obligations on schedule, local air travellers should brace up for tougher days ahead.

Operators have warned that the dire situation, now feasting on airlines’ operations, would worsen flight delays and cancellations, further reduce frequencies and routes, and push airfares higher as more carriers battle to stay afloat.

With 10 local airlines suddenly down to eight, the effects are telling on local travels. On the one hand are the stranded travellers on less viable routes. On the other are high-frequency routes that are now affected by high fares.

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Aviation

FAAN  debunks  rumours of  Lagos plane crash

—Says aircraft sold by owner

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Wednesday debunked viral news that a plane had crashed in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.

In a short statement posted on its verified Facebook page, the airport authority said that the plane was sold by the owner and was being transported by the new buyer.

“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria would like to inform the general public to disregard the news making the rounds on social media about an alleged crash at Ikeja Airport.

The aircraft was sold by the owner to a buyer, who was taking it to its final destination.”

This clarification came after a wingless plane was seen being transported on a flatbed trailer on the road at Ikeja- along bus stop axis, Lagos, causing gridlock and panic among road users.

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