• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Airlines fleece passengers as NCAA warns operators

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Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has warned all airline operators in Nigeria to desist from arbitrarily increasing miscellaneous charges on ticket payment content without the authority’s approval.

Since the NCAA does not determine airfares and surcharges, foreign airlines have also been directed to notify the authority whenever a decision of charges is about to be done.

Therefore with immediate effect, the aviation regulatory body directed that all airlines to file any proposed add-on charges, surcharges or other miscellaneous charges with the agency.

Nigerian airlines have also mastered the trick as they have cited huge operational costs by devising new methods of staying in business by breaking airfares down into ‘fake components,’ including the ‘fuel surcharge’ which is regarded as a trick designed to make passengers pay more.

Many airlines have increased fuel surcharges, claiming that high costs of operations and aviation fuel necessitated the rise in the charges, thereby leaving passengers at the receiving end.

In a statement yesterday, Sam Adurogboye, spokesman for the agency stated that in the procedure of filing same, all justifiable reasons for increment must be adduced in accordance with Parts 18.14.3.1 and 18.14.3.2.(i-iii) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), which relates to the approval of charges on all flights within Nigeria or originating from Nigeria to international routes.

As contained in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), 18.14.3.1. “In requesting for approval of any add-on charges or surcharge, an air carrier is required to provide justifiable basis for the proposed increment with a consideration of all relevant factors including a new linear rationalisation for the specific aggregated costs sought to be recovered and consumer interests.”

Adurogboye noted that in addition to NCARs, section 18.14.3.2. says, “when approving any application for an add-on charge or surcharge related to fuel, the Authority shall take into account changes in prices of aviation fuel, the relevant hedging policies of the air carrier, the justifications provided by the air carrier and other relevant factors.”

The regulations also ensure that the revenue so generated would not exceed the additional fuel costs borne by the airline operators during the corresponding period; and approve on a short-term basis, not exceeding a period of two (2) months in each instance.

The agency subsequently, notified all operators that any add-on charge, surcharge or any other miscellaneous added on passenger tickets without regulatory approval should cease forthwith. Any further breach would attract the appropriate sanctions.

The operators have further argued that the idea of creating this additional price component was because of the rising price of aviation fuel in Nigeria, otherwise known as JET A1. While price of oil has dropped considerably in the global market, aviation fuel still remains very expensive in Nigeria, accounting for 45 per cent of operational cost of carriers.

For instance, a breakdown of an airline’s air ticket (name withheld) to Abuja indicates N500 as Value Added Tax (VAT), N500 for Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), N500 for Passenger Service Charge (PSC), while fuel surcharge is N22,000. Virtually all the carriers now pad their fares with ridiculous fuel surcharge which travel experts said is being used to fleece government, aviation agencies and passengers.

Aviation analyst, Olumide Ohunayo, described the fuel surcharge as a big rip-off, adding that fuel surcharge was taxable income that ought to be paid to government as it was done in other parts of the world.

According to him, “it is an obscenity that airlines continue the sham of fuel price surcharges in an underhanded attempt to blame the oil companies for their biggest operating cost.