The Federal Government has described as untrue, claims that foreign airlines are selling their tickets in foreign currency in Nigeria due to their earnings that are trapped with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
LEADERSHIP recalls that there have been reports in some segment of the media that some foreign carriers like Turkish Airline, Lufthansa and Delta were selling tickets only in foreign currency.
The move, according to the reports, was to evade the forex liquidity crisis in Nigeria, coupled with alleged upward review of charges by the local authorities.
But, speaking to journalists, the director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, said none of the foreign carriers had notified the concerned agencies of any change in ticketing modalities.
According to Nuhu, Nigerian currency (Naira) remains the statutory currency of transactions in the aviation sector, saying that the regulation mandates operating airlines to notify the NCAA where there are significant changes, but none has approached the apex regulator on dollarisation of flight tickets.
“In fact, on one of the airlines that is claimed in the social media to be selling in dollars, I actually got its ticket purchased today in naira in preparation for the ICAO event coming up next month. I bought the ticket ahead of time so that I can get a lower price. So, we are not aware of dollarisation where airlines have demanded dollars for the purchase of tickets, ”Nuhu said.
He added that the NCAA has also not reviewed mandatory charges on airlines in the last 10 years. He said though the substantive rates are outdated, yet they were not unmindful of the current harsh economic environment to jack up the charges.
“Certainly, we would have to sit at a round-table to review the charges but not now if at all, we will have to review the charges with the stakeholders,” Nuhu said.
His counterpart in FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, reckoned that the charges collected by the Authority are statutory, and therefore, cannot be increased without the knowledge of its esteemed passengers and other airport users.
“While it is true that the cost of aviation fuel has gone astronomically high and has adversely affected airline operators worldwide, culminating in an increase in ticket fares, we want to reiterate that FAAN has not increased its charges.
“We are mindful of the challenges of our esteemed passengers and other airport users as a result of the increase in airfares. Hence, the need not to increase the charges. However, the Federal Government and agencies within the aviation sector have intensified efforts to ensure that the challenges facing it are resolved, ”Yadudu said.