Massive Job Loss Looms Over $300 Helicopter Landing Levy

Massive Job Loss Looms Over $300 Helicopter Landing Levy

The new charges imposed on helicopter operators by the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development have continued to generate reactions from stakeholders operating in the sector.

LEADERSHIP reports that the immediate past minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, had in October 2022, engaged NAEBI Dynamic Concept on the collection of charges from over 250 helicopters platforms, oil rigs platforms, airstrips, aerodromes, helipads, helipods and Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FSPO) across the country.

But, the current minister at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, cancelled the contract for allegedly collecting fees for the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) without proper oversight, risking aviation functions and vowed to investigate the company.

But, in a twist of event, a recent memo by Keyamo had directed helicopter operators to compulsorily pay helicopter landing fees at all Nigerian aerodromes, helipads, airstrips, floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units, floating storage and offloading (FSO) units and other oil platforms to NAEBI.

However, stakeholders have kicked against it, saying it will not only lead to job loss but also cripple the whole industry if not completely cancelled.

Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, a former managing director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Roland Iyayi, said the industry should be prepared for massive layoffs.

“The minister by fiat, recently sent out an undated nor referenced letter to helicopter operators in the country, mandating that they henceforth pay ‘Landing Levy’ to the coffers of a private company with no infrastructure for such, but to increase revenue generation.

“The past administration told the industry that it had installed the multilateration surveillance systems in the Niger Delta under the purview of NAMA for the purpose. What has since changed?” he asked.

He continued, “It is pertinent for some questions to be answered here such as, What is the “Landing Levy” for and does it replace the industry standard landing fee? What services are being provided currently and not paid for by helicopter operators?

“For the avoidance of doubt and contrary to the Minister’s assertion on national TV, helicopter operations are fully regulated in Nigeria. From licensing to helideck approvals to flight plans and landing fees. This ‘Landing Levy’ is just another one of those arbitrary charges, that is not doused in reality and has the chance of crippling the whole industry if not completely cancelled,” he stated.

“With the unfolding saga, we should prep ready for a massive layoff soon in the sector and with the restive labour unions hawkishly watching, the timing, quantum, structure and objectives for the introduction of this so-called “Landing Levy” may well be ill-advised and completely detrimental for the structured growth and development of the industry.”

Giving a breakdown of the Levy, Iyayi, said the intention was to bleed domestic airlines and helicopter operators to oblivion.

“Let us consider an example of a typical helicopter operation. Escravos is the operational base for Chevron and it hosts a few of their contracted helicopters. The single engine Bell 407 or light twin Bell 427 helicopter does an average of 70 landings per day.

“So, at $300 per landing, it comes to $21,000 per aircraft per day. There are usually 4-6 contracted aircraft at any time. So, if we assume 5 helicopters as an average, that would amount to a total of about $105,000 per day for the five aircraft. If we then assume a 25-day month, that would amount to a gross earning of $2,625,000.00 as ‘Landing Levy’ per month, only for the Chevron Escravos operations,” he noted.

Also speaking, the chief executive officer, Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said there was no basis for the landing charge.

Sanusi argued that security and knowing all helipads in Nigeria is a duty of the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Air Force and related security agencies and had nothing to do with civil aviation.

He, however, warned that helicopter operators may likely shut down their operations or go to court over the new charges even as he said that the helipads where helicopters land and take off in offshore operations and elsewhere are owned by international oil companies.

Sanusi, whose company has fixed and rotary wings and a major player in the oil and gas sector, also emphasised that the operators pay their due charges to aviation agencies.

“I don’t think it is a good thing to do because the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommended that service providers in the aviation industry, which are government agencies, should engage in cost recovery, but unfortunately the government has turned the agencies into profit making organisations in the aviation industry.”

He also dismissed the claim by the minister that helicopter operations were not regulated, maintaining that their operations are fully regulated as any other aircraft operations in the country.

“There are three basic parastatals that form the basis with which helicopters are operated in Nigeria with financial returns rigidly and religiously remitted to our nation’s coffers – NAMA, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

“Normally, to start your helicopter engine at any airport in Nigeria, you are required to have filed a flight plan with payment made to NAMA for that flight. As you fly from that airport to any other airport or facility, be it helideck, heliport or open field, you are in continuous radio communication with NAMA air traffic controllers, to/fro your flights,” he argued.


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