FAAN Moves to Paralyse Flight Operations over Ministerial Directive on Its Revenue

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Chinedu Eze

Workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) will meet next week to agree on the commencement date for their proposed four-day warning strike to protest a recent directive by the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika that the agency should give five percent of its revenue from Passenger Service Charge (PSC) to Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).

The workers who described the directive as illegal insisting that FAAN cannot offload a percentage of its revenue, which amounts to about N4.2 billion annually when it is lacks the funds to execute critical infrastructure at the airports.

The workers under the Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) vowed that they would ground all operations and stop all flight services to get the government look into the matter, which they described as a surreptious way of diverting public fund to private pockets.

Last week, AIB made it public that the minister had given the Bureau an approval to collect five percent of FAAN’s revenue from PSC to fund projects that would boost accident investigation in the Bureau.

While the FAAN workers alleged that the approval given for the deduction of its revenue for the Bureau was illegal, the Commissioner of AIB, Akin Olateru insisted that it was in the purview of the minister to approve five per cent of the revenue from Passengers Service Charge to the agency from FAAN.

Olateru berated those criticising those kicking against the protests that trailed the approval, pointing that several AIB projects were stalled because of paucity of funds.

He also pointed that AIB only gets a meagre three per cent of the revenue from the five per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) and the Cargo Sales Charge (CSC) collected on behalf of the parastatals by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) while other agencies get more.

But an official of FAAN and senior executive member of ATSSSAN told THISDAY on Wednesday that the agency would never allow such amount of money to get out of FAAN to AIB because the agency is in dire need of revenues that accrues to it.

“That approval is a fraud as far as we are concerned. The Passenger Service Charge is what we use to maintain the airports. The total staff of AIB is 58 but in FAAN we are 8000 plus 4000 pensioners. We have already told our Managing Director that we will go on strike; unless that approval is jettisoned, we are already paying Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) 10 percent of landing fees from international airlines,” the official said.

Also, a top official of FAAN questioned the legality of the Minister to give approval for FAAN to pay part of its revenue to AIB and said that it does not tally with the Act that established FAAN, adding that if such approval could be secured, it would have to go to the National Assembly and would also be reflected in the appropriation bill.

“The minister does not have the power to give such approval without recourse to the National Assembly. Definitely labour has insisted that they will embark on strike to protest this illegality because government should have thought of a way to run AIB, which contributes nothing to the aviation industry; even the accident investigation, how many of the report have they issued and for how long. I was privileged to see the document and I was surprised that our management could endorse it, but the workers will never take it,” the official said.

THISDAY also learnt that all the airports would be shut down during the strike and that a meeting on Monday, next week would decide when the FAAN workers would down tools.