Flight operations may have stopped at the Gombe and Kebbi airports as indications emerged that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) may have withdrawn its services over N800 million unpaid debt owed it by the two airports.
FAAN for several months have requested that the two airports and the other state-owned airports in the country, which owed FAAN a total sum of N4 billion, should liquidate the debts incurred as charges for security and fire services.
A source from the agency, which confirmed the withdrawal of services yesterday, said FAAN may have made good its threat of shutting down any state-owned airport that didn’t pay up its debts on or before May 1, 2019.
It was gathered that in response to the withdrawal of the services by FAAN, airlines could not fly to any of the two airports yesterday because without security and fire cover any airport is automatically closed for operations.
THISDAY also learnt from Gombe that a meeting was ongoing between FAAN and Gombe airport to resolve the issue.
FAAN had urged the indebted airports to offset their bills and threatened that without the payment of the debts, it would withdraw its services.
The agency issued Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to inform airlines that it would withdraw its services from yesterday.
This followed expiration of the last one-week ultimatum issued to them by the agency, which said it had exhausted the option of amicable settlement.
This was confirmed by the General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu who said the agency had issued a NOTAM to the airports and airlines operating there.
She explained that the withdrawal of service would take place mid-night of yesterday and it would be indefinite until the debts owed the agency were paid.
According to her, management of Osubi and Akwa Ibom Airports had paid up parts of their debts as at Tuesday, but regretted that Gombe and Kebbi airports refused to comply with the directive.
With the services withdrawn, no airline can operate to the airports, which currently enjoys the services of Arik Air, Azman Air and Max Air.
Operation Manager, Azman Air, Saminu Tanko confirmed that the airline had received the NOTAM on the closure of the airports, saying their flights to the two airports would be suspended if the NOTAM were implemented.