Airlines seek tax cut, fault EU over air safety, emission rules

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AFRAAs-SEC-GEN-Elijah-Chingosho_copyWORRIED by huge cost of their operations on the continent, African airlines have called on governments on the reduction of taxes, adding that the excessive taxes on the industry has made their operations very difficult.

The Secretary General of the umbrella body of the continent’s carriers, African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Dr. Elijah Chingosho, stressed that there was the need to improve infrastructure as well as allow competition in handling services delivery at airports to lower cost of travel and excessive airport taxes, charges and fees.

He added that the situation “is stifling the development of air transport and compounding the many difficulties that African airlines have to surmount to be competitive and profitable.”

The high taxes for airlines by airport authorities in the continent are allegedly outrageous and the costs of these charges, ranging from landing to parking fees and passengers taxes as well as high fuel cost among others, have engendered to high fares by these airlines, which costs are passed to travellers.

Save for Ghana, which crashed these costs, Nigeria ranks high among other African nations that allegedly charge airlines excessively. Recently, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) introduced a $60 terrorism charge on airlines.

However, while some African countries like South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya have developed their aviation infrastructure, Nigeria with many others have their major airports in shambles, a situation that has equally led to high cost of operation and service.

Speaking at the recently concluded 43rd yearly General Assembly held in Marrakesh, Morocco, the AFRAA called on African operators to exploit the growth opportunities in the continent through enhanced cooperation and business partnerships.

The three-day assembly had the theme, “Harnessing growth opportunities together,” and brought together over 370 high-profile aviation professionals, manufacturers and service providers.

Chingosho commended the resilience of African airlines operators in spite of the numerous challenges they face, just as he challenged them to take advantage of the growth being experienced on the continent to expand their operations and strategically position themselves as key links between Africa and other regions of the world.

On safety, the AFRAA scribe called on African countries to take their safety over-sight responsibilities seriously and together with the African Union (AU), engage the European Union (EU) on its unilateral regulations on aspects of the industry, which, according to him, has the potential of distorting competition.

He singled out the EU list of banned airlines and the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) as two of the most discriminatory regulations by the EU in recent years.

He challenged EU carriers not to fly into African markets declared unsafe by their home governments, arguing that “the same skies that are unsafe for African operators cannot be safe for European airlines.”

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