Yesterday, the Federal Government denied accusations that international plane tickets have been “dollarized,” with foreign airlines purportedly refusing to accept the naira as a form of payment.
None of the international carriers had informed the relevant agencies of any changes in ticketing mechanisms, according to the head of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
In addition, they asserted that, in contrast to assertions made in some quarters, regulatory bodies and service providers had not yet imposed new fees on operating carriers.
According to media reports, some foreign airlines like Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, and Delta have begun selling tickets exclusively in foreign currencies. The action was taken to avoid the Nigerian FX liquidity situation and a claimed upward reassessment of charges by the authorities.
The Director General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, stated that the naira continues to be the mandated currency of sale in the aviation industry shortly after leading the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on a tour of the new terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
Nuhu pointed out that although operating airlines are required by statute to notify the NCAA of any substantial changes, none have done so regarding the dollarization of aircraft tickets.
I bought a ticket today in naira for an airline that is rumored to be selling tickets in dollars on social media in advance of the ICAO event next month. To get a better deal, I purchased the ticket in advance. Therefore, we are not aware of any instances of dollarization when airlines have required payment in dollars for tickets, according to Nuhu.
He continued by saying that the NCAA has not examined the requirements for airline fees in the previous ten years. Although the substantive rates are out-of-date, he said that they increased the fees while keeping in mind the difficult economic conditions. “Undoubtedly, we would need to convene a roundtable to discuss the charges, but not right now. We’ll need to discuss the costs with the stakeholders, if at all,” Nuhu said.
Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, his FAAN colleague, believed that because the fees the Authority collects are statutory, they cannot be raised without the consent of the Authority’s esteemed customers and other airport users.
“While it is true that the price of aviation fuel has skyrocketed and has negatively impacted airline operators worldwide, increasing ticket prices, we want to emphasize that FAAN has not raised its fees.
“We are aware of the difficulties that the rise in airfares has caused for our esteemed customers and other airport users. Therefore, there is no need to raise the fees. To ensure that the issues it faces are overcome, the Federal Government and entities within the aviation sector have increased their efforts, according to Yadudu.
Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to addressing concerns in the aviation industry, especially the ongoing dispute over blocked payments for foreign airlines, which as of July had grown to more than $464 million.
The dedication of the Buhari Administration’s “exceptional infrastructure development including roads, bridges, rail, water dams, seaports, and so on,” according to Mohammed, is demonstrated by the new terminals. No administration in Nigerian history has accomplished as much, particularly during a time of resource shortage, he claimed.