The Chairman West Link Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, has disclosed that despite the government waiver on customs duties given to airline operators on aircraft parts, the operators are still paying duties.
Speaking in a recent interview with Aviation Correspondents in Lagos, Capt. Mshelia asked who is collecting the duties the operators are paying.
“I have the evidence that we are paying. Meanwhile, government has approved these things since, but we are still paying,” he said.
West Link Airlines boss advised the government to start accepting advice from genuine professionals in order to move the industry forward.
He urged the Department of State Security Service, DSS to intervene in the case of private jet owners engaging in illegal charter operations.
Mshelia pointed out that it is purely economic sabotage for private jet owners to be engaging in illegal charter operations.
He said the government should be more worried because it is losing a lot of revenues.
The NCAA should ask the DSS to check their operations, he stated.
“I pay the 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), even if I don’t have the cash with me, I owe it and I must pay it and I can’t jump it. But, those that are doing these sharp practices are not captured in the NCAA data. So, NCAA cannot go after them.
Then, I think the Department of State Security (DSS) should have intervened because this was purely economic sabotage, for them to remain for this long, even when the former director-general of NCAA suspended some of them.
That is why I felt that if the director-general of NCAA has a full autonomy, then he would do his job without looking at the body language of the minister.
Even, the passengers are also endangering themselves by flying private jets because no insurance would want to compensate the victims when the accident occurs,” he said.
Commenting on the failure of the defunct National Carrier, Capt. Mshelia stated that Nigeria Airways was not created for profitability the way it was run and the structure it had.
He explained that: “The airline had an annual budget. How can the airline have an annual budget? The government pays for A,B, C and D checks and others. Because the airline had a budget, every government department then flew Nigeria Airways with warrant officers. In the military for instance, from Colonel and above, you flew first class and below, you get economy. For government establishment, from directorship level, you have first class and the rest is economy. And that was how the airline was run. It wasn’t meant for profit making. So, how do you survive?
Also, the presidency didn’t have an aircraft designated to it. Whenever the presidency had a function, they will just pull out an aircraft immediately either for local or international operations. There was a time the scheduled flights of the airline will just be disrupted midway. That was how even the government contributed to the death of the airline”.
He said the staff also contributed to the demise of the airline through corruption as everybody was helping himself with the airline, while everyone was employed based on quota system.
He noted that the management of the airline would employ mediocres in the places they should not be, give people positions above their level and qualifications, thereby demoralising the other staff who are better qualified than them.
He said: “There were cases in which stations managers were sacked or recalled for not doing the biddings of some people in the government especially when they wanted their non-revenue luggage to be given priority above revenue luggage of passengers”.
He maintained that quota system is killing the Nigerian system up till now.
I am not against quota system in certain things so that we will have equal presentation, but there are some certain things that will require technical qualifications, he said.
On the federal government long plans to establish MRO and Aircraft Leasing company, Mshelia stated further that the arrangement will help strengthen the airlines here, adding that the operators don’t have to be looking for dollars to pay their lease.
He said: “We operate in naira, we pay in naira. We recommended that N500 billion should be set aside by government in 2013, as a leasing company for local operators to access and bring their planes in.
The lessor is supposed to be Nigerian leasing company, so we will be paying here; all the income will be domiciled here and it will help to strengthen our naira. It will be only parts and training that we maybe worrying about. If we intensify our things properly, we can even have our trainings reduced to Nigeria as we have all the airplanes simulators here”.