Monday, March 2, 2015

No more payment of airport tax

Which are the only airports in the world where the government collects airport tax? Cameroonian airports! And it is 10.000 francs, approximately 20 dollars. What I am wondering aloud is this, what do they do with all the money collected? Since the Douala Airport became operational in 1971 (during the presidency of Ahmadou Ahidjo and it was the fourth best airport in Africa then!) it has barely had any very impressive face lifts. Many Cameroonians who return to Douala after long sojourns in the diaspora always exclaim, "I say eh, this airport never change!"

So I was very excited when the news began circulating that very soon the payment of 10.000frs as airport tax would end. What was the point of the airport tax? It is not collected in so many other countries. Why should it be collected here, especially when it is not used to spectacularly improve our airports?

The law became operational from March 1st 2015. However, on some flights like Kenya Airways, there is a small twist. All passengers who bought their flight tickets before March 1st still have to pay the airport tax. It would be done at the KQ office since the payment booth is not functional anymore. The KQ staff would pay the money to Cameroon government officials at the end of each flight or the end of the month. On the other hand, passengers who bought tickets on March 1st and beyond would not pay anything even to KQ.

What baffles me is that some other airlines like Ethiopian don't collect the airport tax even from passengers who bought flight tickets before March 1st. So I am wondering if they will end up paying all that money to our government in due course. I consider that issue Ethiopian Airlines' business anyway. All I am happy about is that there is no more payment of airport tax at our two main airports in Douala and Yaounde. But hey, no rejoicing because the tax has been added in the flight ticket, so passengers are still going to pay it in another form. So when next you pic up your flight ticket and find this, "T7" then know it is the initial for the airport tax you paid.