Helicopter landing
Airline Operators Reject Helicopter Landing, Take-Off Fee         
Yinka Olajoyetan, Lagos 
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has rejected the decision of the Federal Government to impose landing and take-off charges on helicopter operations in the country especially, on oil platforms.
It also rejected the appointment of a private firm, Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited, as special purpose vehicle for the collection of the charges.
Making its position on the contentious issue known on Thursday in a press release titled “AON’s Position on the Helicopter Landing and Take-Off Fee”, signed by its spokesman, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo and made available to journalists, Thursday, the association said agencies of the federal government do not provide any special services to oil platforms to warrant the charges.
The association noted that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), does not provide any additional service to helicopter operators to justify the imposition of the fee at all helipads, oil rig platforms, FSPOs, FSOs, etc. in Nigeria.
Among reasons given for the objection, AON said: “The approval and imposition of the helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee at private helipads, oil rig platforms, FSPOs, FSOs etc. when no service is provided at those locations to the helicopter operators by NAMA is contrary to the provision of Section 7 (1) (r) of the then applicable NAMA Act as well as to section 1, paragraph 2 (1) of ICAO Document 9082.
“NAMA did not adhere to the policies, principles and guidelines contained in ICAO Documents 9082 (ICAO’s Policies on Charges for Airports and Air Navigation Services) and 9161 (Manual on Air Navigation Services Economics) before imposing the Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee. Part 18, section 18.8.1.1 (e) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations require NAMA to adhere to the policies, principles and guidelines contained in those documents.
“NAMA did not obtain the approval of NCAA before imposing the new fee/charge/levy. Part 18, section 18.8.1.1 (b) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations require NAMA to obtain the approval of NCAA before imposing any new charges and fees for its services. NCAA has the statutory power to regulate the charges that may be made in respect of air traffic control and for the use of aerodromes and for services provided at such aerodromes.
“NAMA did not consult the helicopter operators and other stakeholders before imposing the Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee. Part 18, section 18.8.1.1 (d) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations require NAMA to adhere to the principles and procedures of consultation with users, cost-relatedness, non-discrimination and transparency in the application of charges and fees.
“Contrary to the Ministry’s Press Release of 13th May, 2024, neither NCAA nor FAAN is a party to the MoU between NAMA and Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited for the collection of the Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee at private helipads, oil rig platforms, FSPOs, FSOs etc., as those Agencies had made it clear that they have no legal framework or justification to impose such fee.
“The Fee is charged and demanded for in US Dollars contrary to the provision of section 15 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, which is clear that the unit of currency in Nigeria shall be the Naira.
“There is nowhere in the world where the Air Navigation Service Provider does not provide any service to helicopter operators but charges landing and take-off fee for landings and take—off on and from private helipads, oil rig platforms, FSPOs, FSOs, etc. The examples given by the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development in the Press Release of 13th May 2024 of where landing and take-off fee is paid are all of airports.
“The engagement of Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited did not follow due process as it did not comply with the requirements of the Public Procurement Act for the procurement of the services of consultants.”
AON said that it had at a meeting held recently with the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festsus Keyamo, made its position on the helicopter landing and take-off fee known.
According to the association, “this led to the temporary suspension of the collection of the fee and the setting up of a committee to look into the issues raised by the AON and other stakeholders.”
Commending the minister “for giving a listening ear to our position on the matter and for his great leadership of the aviation industry and support for the growth and sustainability of Nigerian air operators,” AON also faulted the appointment of a private firm as collector of the fees stating that the appointment was not transparently done by “a former aviation minister’.
Tracing the controversy behind the appointment of Naebi Dynamic Concepts as fee collector, AON recalls that “this matter began in 2018 when Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited proposed the introduction of this so-called “Helicopter Landing and Take-off Fee” to the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who forwarded the proposal to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for comment. NCAA made it clear that there was neither legal framework nor legal justification for it to introduce such fee, and that aside certification of helipads, most of which are privately-owned, and for which it charged certification fee, it did not provide any service to helicopter operators that would justify the imposition of such fee.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which manages airports also had neither legal framework nor justification to impose such a charge on helicopter landing and take-off other than at its airports, which helicopter operators pay just like other aircraft operators in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), one of whose functions under the NAMA Act is to provide the navigation services necessary for the operation of aircraft taking off and landing and integrate them into the overall air traffic within the Nigerian airspace, did not charge helicopter landing and take-off fee for helicopter landings on and take-off from, oil rig platforms, FSPOs and private helipads, because it did not provide any service in respect thereto to the operators. Section 7(1) (r) of the NAMA Act which was in force at the time is clear that NAMA shall charge fees only for the services provided by the Agency, and helicopter operators pay the air navigation charges as generated on monthly basis, just like every other aircraft operator in Nigeria. Also, ICAO Document 9082 permit the imposition of charges only for services provided and functions performed for civil aviation operations.
“Despite the absence of any legal framework and justification for its imposition, and despite being so advised by the agencies, the former Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development approved the proposal for collection of Landing and Take-off Fee for all helicopters landing and taking off on and from oil fields/terminals/platforms/rigs/FPSOs, etc. and conveyed his approval for NAMA to engage and collaborate with Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited for the collection of the fee/charge/levy. Consequent upon the approval and engagement, Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited has been demanding payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars from already overcharged helicopter operators as Landing/Take-off Fee for landing on and taking off from oil rig platforms and private helipads without providing any service whatsoever to the operators.”
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