The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has asked foreign airlines wishing to sell tickets in the United States dollars because of the difficulty they encountered in repatriating the proceeds of their ticket sales to discontinue the idea.
It said doing so would put enormous pressure on intending travelers and make it extremely difficult for people to travel.
This is coming as the chairman, of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji called on foreign airlines that had taken steps to stop their operations or cut flight services to Nigeria to rescind the decision.
Emirates Airlines stunned Nigeria by announcing that it would stop flight operations to Nigeria from Sept 1, 2022, with over $85 million in debts owed by Nigeria.
He equally urged the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the member airlines to show understanding by rescinding some of the actions they have taken against the country.
Some carriers like British Airways and South African Airways (SAA) in the wake of the crisis that saw over $464 million of their money trapped in Nigeria had devised a means of asking people to buy their tickets online which would make it easier for them to sell their tickets in dollars for easy repatriation.
SAA on the other hand had directed that tickets paid purchased outside Nigeria would be paid for in dollars while bought in Nigeria would be paid for in Naira.
Just last week Thursday, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren suggested ways to end the impasse of non-remittance of airlines funds by proposing that Nigerians traveling in First and Business classes could be made to pay for their tickets in dollars to avoid pilling up of funds; a situation he said was eroding the country’s image.
Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for responding to the appeal and concerns expressed by the House Leadership and its Committee on Aviation by releasing more than half of the trapped foreign airlines’ funds.
Nnaji also acknowledged the efforts of the Ministries of Aviation and Finance as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) for their roles in making the release of the funds possible.
The House Committee Chairman on Aviation similarly expressed thanks to the Speaker and the leadership of the House of Representatives for always responding swiftly to the matters affecting the industry.
According to him, “As representatives of the Nigerian people, the leadership and members of my committee will continue to dialogue with the executives to ensure a robust air transport economy”.
Nnaji further stressed that while the relevant organs of government were making efforts to liquidate the remaining balance, sufficient arrangements should be put in place to avoid a repeat occurrence of such circumstances in the future.
He equally appealed to the airlines to try to bring down their fares on Nigerian routes noting that investigations had shown that Nigerian travelers pay higher airfares on international routes more than any country in Africa.
Meanwhile, there are indications that Emirates may after all not withdraw services from Nigeria. The carrier in a notice to its trade partners made available to Aviation Metric entitled, “Emirates reinstate flight to Nigeria” noted that, “Operations to Nigeria will be reinstated with a four weekly Lagos (LOS) Flights EFF on September 11, 2022.”.
The carrier further noted that Lagos flights beyond Sept, 30th, 2022 will be advised in due course.
While not stopping flight operations to Nigeria, the carrier may have cut down its frequencies from 14 weekly to just four.