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VENTURES AFRICA – Over 20 Nigerian private jet operators have embarked on an indefinite strike, following the imposition of a $3000 luxury tax by the country’s airspace management agency (NAMA).
Nigeria plans to rake in N32 billion ($201.2 million) annually from charter aircraft operators, and has slammed a $3000 tax on local owners, charging foreign registered operators $4000 per departure, Nigerian newspaper, Punch reported.
“We have been on strike since Tuesday and we have not operated since then. When I say we, I mean the private jet owners, especially those who are on charter operations and there are about 20 airlines that have been on strike since then,” explained Mr. Mohammed Tukur, a spokesperson for the carriers and a senior official of the Airline Operators of Nigeria.
When quizzed about specific airlines that have joined the action, he said: “For instance, Arik Air has its own small aircraft that can be used for charter services but right now, they are grounded and are not in operation. So, no airline that is involved in charter flight is operating.”
Other operators include: Skypower Express Airways, Gyro Air, Skyjet Air, Skybird Air, Kings Air, Jedd Air, Izy Air, Topbrass Air, Air Ambulance, Pan African Air and Weaslink Air.
Private jet owners, consisting of companies, businessmen, government agencies and clergymen will be expected to part with $1.4 million annually, following the new tax scheme.
Nigeria is said to be one of the leading private jet markets, rivalling the US, UK, and China as countries that top bombardier aircraft orders, a senior official revealed.
In the five years leading up to 2012, 120 private jets worth a total of $6.5 billion were imported into Nigeria, bringing the country’s private jet fleet to about 200 aircraft – almost 10 times the number of planes operated by Arik Air.
The country’s luxury charter market is currently worth $3.5 billion, making it Africa’s largest private jet market.