The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has accused officers of the Nigeria Customs Service of killing the aviation industry in the country.
Onyema made the allegation on Thursday when he showcased the newly acquired Embrier 195-E2 airline by the airline at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Asserting that President Muhammadu Buhari has good plans for the aviation sector, he said Customs officials must be made to obey the law.
“The Nigeria Customs officials are not above the law. I must not be a prisoner of my own conscience. They must be made to obey the laws of this country. They are killing aviation. This government wants to help aviation. The minister keeps on intervening,” he stated.
The Air Peace boss added that the NCS was aware of a legal waiver, yet they demand payment for spare parts.
His words, “Customs (officials) know very well that waivers have been signed into law, yet I have an aircraft grounded for over one month, an aircraft I pay over $1m of insurance whether it flies or not.
“I pay over N490 million with a staff strength of over 3,000. Our spare parts and engines will come into this country and Customs will keep them and be giving us all manner of reasons and bills to pay, through the President, in his wisdom, has signed these waivers into law. They do not depend on the whims and caprices of anyone anymore.”
According to him, airlines that are struggling for forex at N490 to a dollar should be given a break.
“We are struggling to play safe, and at the same time, we decide to yank off an engine that will not serve the interest of aviation and bring in another; but the engine has been with the Customs for over one month. The engine involved was removed from here and taken back to the manufacturers to rectify the fault. The engine coming back is staying one month with Customs. This is not a new import. To help aviation, government agencies must not be vindictive but try to accept feedback.”
Onyema lauded the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for his intervention.
“If not for the minister of aviation, last week, all the airlines in the country would have shut down. Where does that leave this economy of this country? At Air Peace, in particular, an engine, which should be cleared in one day, has taken over one month to clear. In the neighboring Republic of Benin, it takes 48 hours to clear goods,” he said.
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