• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lufthansa, KLM, BA, others release low ticket inventories after NCAA’s intervention

NCAA suspends 3 private jet operators over commercial flights

… as authority sets up committee to reduce skyrocketing fares

Following the intervention of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), Lufthansa German Airlines, KLM, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, and Turkish Airlines have all released all categories of low inventory tickets while Air France has failed to comply with the directives.

BusinessDay’s checks however show that none of the foreign airlines has reflected market reality fares in their ticket pricing as earlier directed.

Investigations show that currently, a return economy class ticket from Lagos to London cost an average of N3.5million, while Air Peace sells for N1.2million.

A distance of six hours from Ghana to London may sometimes cost about $800 while similar distance with similar operating aircraft cost over $2000 in Nigeria.

In a move to halt the spiraling cost of air tickets in the country and make travelling affordable for Nigerians, Chris Najomo, the Director General of the NCAA has set up a 10-man Committee to look into the high cost of tickets in the country.

The Committee is coming on the heels of a two-day high-level meeting held between NCAA and foreign airlines in Nigeria on the urgent need to unblock all low inventory tickets which were hitherto blocked for over 18 months.

The 10-man committee chaired by Horatius Egua, Director of Special Duties NCAA, is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the foreign airlines fully comply with the directives of the government to unblock all low inventory tickets as well as recommend appropriate pricing of tickets in Nigeria compared to similar markets in the West African sub-region.

Other members of the committee are: Michael Achimugu, Director Public Affairs and Consumer Protection NCAA; Rotimi Arogunjo General Manager (GM) Licensing and Statistics NCAA; Ogechi Louis-Azode Deputy General Manager (DGM) Legal Services NCAA; Susan Akporiaye, President National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA); Olaoluwa Oladipupo Assistant General Manager (AGM) Fairs and Tariffs NCAA; David-Ojuigo Asst. Director FCCPC; Yinka Folami incoming President NANTA; and Florence Abebe Chief Legal Officer FCCPC while Ifueko Abdulmalik, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) DG NCAA is to serve as Secretary.

In the last several months, Nigerians have been made to pay higher fares on international flights unjustly as all the foreign airlines increased their flight tickets astronomically citing the high exchange rate as well as other sundry issues and also deliberately blocked low inventory tickets making travel unbearable for Nigerians.

“This is very discriminatory in nature. We cannot continue to pay higher fares compared to other countries in the sub-region that have similar distances, using same operating aircraft. We have the market and in some cases we have more liberal taxes? This is unacceptable and we totally reject this,” Egua who represented Najomo at the meeting held between February 12 and 13, 2024, in Abuja, said.

“For instance, a distance of six hours from Ghana to London may sometimes cost about $800 while similar distance with similar operating aircraft cost over $2000 in Nigeria. This is discriminatory and an unfair practice and we reject this in totality,” he further stated.

The NCAA, following the outcry by Nigerians over the astronomical increase in air tickets, convened the two-day meeting with the foreign airlines operating in Nigeria.

The meeting which held at the headquarters of the NCAA, in Abuja, had in attendance representatives from the NCAA, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) made presentation on behalf of foreign airlines.

Rising from the meeting the Authority expressed strong reservations over the high cost of fares and discriminatory practices against Nigerians by the foreign airlines and called for immediate reversal of the trend.
One of the key resolutions at the end of the meeting between the Authority, FCCPC, NANTA and the foreign airlines was for the reduction in the cost of tickets and for the airlines to unconditionally unblock all lower inventory tickets to the Nigerian market.