This Day (Lagos)

26 April 2012

Nigeria: Fare Disparity - FG Suspends Ultimatum On Foreign Airline Operators

Photo: This Day
Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The Federal Government has announced that it has put on hold the planned ban of foreign airlines that failed to comply with the directive to restore fare parity in recognition of the ongoing intervention effort by the National Assembly.

This however came on the heels of the expiration of the ultimatum yesterday. This was disclosed in a statement yesterday by the Ministry of Aviation, which said in deference to the decision of the Senate to examine the matter and make recommendations, the Ministry would have to defer the planned ban till the outcome of the recommendation of the Senate.

Few weeks ago, the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, gave foreign airlines that charge Nigerians exploitative fares a 30 days ultimatum to adjust the fares so that it would reflect what were charged in the West Africa sub- region as government had noticed that some airlines rip off Nigerians with outrageous and exorbitant fares.

The punishment for the failure to adjust the fares would have been an outright ban of the airline from operating into the country.

In the statement, which was signed by Special Adviser to the Minister (Media), Mr. Joe Obi, the Minister explained, "Ever since the ultimatum was issued, a lot of developments have occurred. There have been consultations and negotiations between the Nigerian and British authorities with regard to the operations of BA (British Airways) and VAA (Virgin Atlantic Airways). Negotiations involving other foreign carriers have also been on-going."

The statement noted that the most significant development since the issue broke out was the intervention of the House of Representatives and the Senate, "given the high interest the question of fare imbalance generates across the country.

Currently, the intervention /investigation of the Senate Committee on Aviation is still on-going. The first phase of that investigation was the public hearing where all interested/ affected stakeholders made various representations to the committee."

It also noted that while the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah had insisted that the regional fare imbalance must be dismantled, "with severe consequences for all airlines that fail to comply, it is however imperative to allow the Senate investigation to take its full course.

As a result, the proposed ban of all airlines that fail to restore fare parity has been put on hold in the interim in deference to the ongoing intervention effort of the Senate and the National Assembly."

The statement added that action in that regard would be determined at the conclusion of the Senate investigation in order not to prejudice the outcome of the Committee Report "as well as accord due respect and recognition to the current effort of the institution of the National Assembly at resolving the issues in the best interest of the nation."

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