Monday, August 12, 2013

Private Jet Owners in Nigeria Barred From Goverment Terminal

Barely three months after unveiling a new policy
for general aviation, which barred private jet
owners from carrying their friends and associates,
the Federal Government has stopped private jet
owners and chartered jet operators from using the
international wing of the Murtala Muhammed
Airport in Lagos for foreign travels.
The order, which has taken effect, was conveyed
through a memo from the Federal Airports
Authority of Nigeria to the heads of all the
security agencies operating at the MMIA.
Airport sources told our correspondent on Friday
that following the order, some private jet owners
and chartered jet operators had stopped travelling
through the international wing of the MMIA.

As a result, private jet owners and chartered jet
passengers travelling out and coming into the
country will not go through the required security
screening, including that of the Immigration,
Customs, narcotics control and the State Security
Service at the MMIA.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by our
correspondent, also directed the heads of security
agencies to deploy personnel to a privately-owned
Fixed Base Operation facility to conduct the
necessary checks on the private jet owners and
passengers before and after foreign trips.

A FBO facility is a mini terminal or an aviation
facility where private jet owners and chartered jet
operators can also do fuelling, route planning and
dispatching, among others.

The FAAN memo was copied to the Director, State
Security Service, MMIA; Commissioner of Police,
Police Airport Command; Military Airport
Commandant, Nigeria Air Force; Comptroller,
Nigeria Immigration Service, MMIA; Controller,
Nigeria Customs Services, MMIA; and Airport
Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement
Agency.

However, stakeholders, especially private jet
owners and chartered jet operators, have opposed
the order, saying the development would lead to
higher cost of operations.
The operators claimed that the directive would
increase the cost of owning and operating private
jets as the use of a private facility instead of the
government-owned MMIA before embarking on
foreign travels would lead to the escalation of
their costs.

Some operators have also accused FAAN of
conniving with the operator of the FBO to rip off
private jet owners and chartered jet operators.
A chartered jet operator, who spoke under the
condition of anonymity, said, "I think this is an
unfair deal. Why should we all be forced to leave
the international terminal to a private facility?

This is not best practice any where in the world for
the government to force operators to be
patronising only one Fixed Base Operation.
"What is wrong with our present arrangement? Is
this free to us all or this will be an additional cost
to our already strained budget? No consultation
whatsoever from the Federal Airports Authority of
Nigeria on this before the implementation.

There
are so many questions. Is this another 'food for
the boys' arrangement? This is so unfair."
However, FAAN has directed the Nigerian Airspace
Management Agency to clear private jets and
charter jets from the private facility.
The directive, it was leant, took effect a few
weeks ago, but some industry stakeholders said
the development would lead to lax security
measures for private and chartered jet
passengers.

They said that having to screen high profile
passengers, who constituted the bulk of private
jet owners and passengers at a private facility
instead of the government-owned international
terminal, might lead to massive compromise of
standard security screening required for
international travels.

But FAAN, in its memo to NAMA, said it had signed
a Memorandum of Understanding with the owners
of the private FBO and that requisite security
personnel had been deployed to the facility.

The FAAN memo, dated July 4, 2013, signed by
the Regional Manager, Mr. E. A. Olarerin, read,
"Commencement of international business and
private jets operations through Quits Aviation
Centre at the MMIA: This is to inform your good
office that FAAN signed an MoU with M/S Quits
located in the MMIA to begin processing all
business and private jets at the Quits Aviation
Centre.

"Already, all relevant security agencies involved
in this operation have performed due diligence on
the facility and have given it a clean bill of health,
and have subsequently deployed their staff to the
centre. In view of this, we hereby solicit the
cooperation of NAMA to direct all such flight to
process at the new facility."

However, the General Manager, Corporate
Communications, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said
there was nothing like barring private and
chartered jet operators from the international
wing of the MMIA, noting that they were free to
operate from there.

But a top official of FAAN, who did not want his
name to be mentioned because he was not
authorised to speak on the matter, said the
Federal Government had cancelled the MoU with
the FBO operator due to increasing pressure from
various quarters over the development.

He said the private jet owners and chartered jet
operators were free to go back and start flying
through the international wing of the MMIA.
However, findings by our correspondent revealed
that most of the private jet owners were not
aware of this development as most of them are
still flying through the FBO facility.

source: PUNCHNG














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