Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, has been praised by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) for suspending the landing and take-off fees previously imposed on helicopter operators and owners.

The commendation was made in Abuja over the weekend by AON spokesman, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, who highlighted the Minister’s patriotic commitment to fostering the growth of Nigeria’s aviation industry.

Okonkwo acknowledged the Minister’s leadership in listening to stakeholders and addressing past mistakes for the benefit of Nigerians. By halting the collection of these fees, especially those affecting oil platforms, the Minister demonstrated his dedication to upholding aviation laws and regulations. The previous administration’s decision to impose these fees had bypassed due process and violated legal limitations governing the aviation sector.

“We commend the Honourable 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” Okonkwo stated.

He further criticized the past administration for imposing these charges in contravention of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and international Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations. Despite being advised of the lack of legal framework and justification, the former Minister approved the collection of these fees from all helicopters operating on oil fields and platforms.

The approval had also involved a private firm, Naebi Dynamic Concepts Limited, which demanded significant fees from helicopter operators without providing any services. AON noted that in 2018, Naebi proposed the fee to the then-Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who forwarded it to the NCAA for comments. The NCAA confirmed there was no legal basis for the fee, as it provided no relevant services to helicopter operators, nor did FAAN or NAMA.

FAAN, which manages airports, does not have the authority to impose such charges outside its airports. NAMA, responsible for navigation services, does not charge for helicopter operations on oil platforms or private helipads due to the absence of provided services. ICAO regulations also stipulate that charges should only be for services rendered, which was not the case here.

Despite these legal and regulatory breaches, the former minister imposed the fees and engaged Naebi for collection in collaboration with NAMA. AON expressed its gratitude for the current Minister’s efforts to rectify these errors and steer the aviation sector towards a more sustainable path.