26th March, 2012
Foreign airlines which charge higher fares in Nigeria, far above other African countries, must crash their prices within 30 days or be booted out, the Ministry of Aviation has warned, adding that the ultimatum takes effect from today.
Critics say the ministry does not have the power to regulate air fares in a free market economy, but rather must set up a new national carrier to stimulate competition.
Nigeria Airways, the Nigerian national career, was mismanaged with its assets either stolen or sold at give away prices.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are often accused of iniquitous charges for passengers in Nigeria.
Analysts have said doing business in Nigeria, where corruption is rampant, is more expensive.
The ultimatum was issued as the ministry is urging the National Assembly to enact the Passengers’ Bill of Rights.
The ministry late last year called on foreign airlines to stop the huge fare disparity in the west Africa sub-region.
The British Airways and Virgin Atlantic,last December, pleaded for time to study the alleged fare disparity and promised to report back to the ministry.
However, three months after, their study still seems ongoing while outrageous fares are being charged in Nigeria.
Tired of waiting, the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah said at the weekend:“We are seriously concerned and worried by the reluctance to restore parity within the region by the foreign airlines. They have been using all kinds of delay tactics. This is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
“Nigerian passengers do not deserve this kind of exploitation and we are willing and ready to stand up for their rights.”
Oduah said Nigeria is an important and lucrative route for the international airlines, adding that Nigerians and foreigners in the country must be treated fairly.
“In the interim, we encourage Nigerian travellers to avail themselves of other competitive alternatives, while we try to address and resolve this issue once and for all,” she said.