So, who do Nigerians believe? Airline operators or Minister of state for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The minister had claimed that the airline operators were indebted to aviation agencies and other firms to the tune of 516 billion naira, a claim that the airline operators have denied.

The Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Nogie Meggisson, told newsmen in Lagos on Sunday that the minister’s claims were unverified.

Sirika reportedly said that Nigerian airlines were ridden with debts, weak and unable to compete and take advantage of the newly inaugurated Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM).

Also Read: Single Aviation Market Means Freedom On 'Africa Airways'

Meggison, however, said that the minister was reeling out figures offhand, stressing that he could not prove any of the debts he mentioned.

The AON chairman said that Nigerian aviation agencies lacked the ability to transparently record their revenues and document accurately the debts owed them by the airlines.

“We have always asked them to list the debts. It is easy to call numbers. Let those we owe bring their bills and explain the debts.

“Although government cannot be held responsible for the operation of privately owned airlines, but the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) is competing with airlines, running two airlines with tax payers’ funds.

“So we don’t have a level playing ground because AMCON is a competitor, using the taxes we pay to compete with us. When are they going to leave the airline industry?” Meggisson said.

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