The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on Sunday directed airlines operating in the country, particularly foreign carriers, to immediately stop the sale of air tickets in the United States dollars and other foreign currencies.
According to the regulatory agency, the affected airlines have been given notes of warning and their action declared a flagrant contravention of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s prerequisites guiding the cost of products and services in the country.
It was gathered that some foreign carriers started demanding for payment for flight tickets only in dollars since April this year in a bid to repatriate funds to their home countries due to scarcity of foreign exchange in Nigeria.
In June, the foreign airline operators had told the Federal Government that many of them were contemplating to halt their operations following their inability to repatriate their earnings to their home countries.
The Area Manager, International Air Transport Agency, South West Africa, Mr. Samson Fatokun, who led the foreign airlines to a meeting with the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had argued that the non-repatriation of over $591m to their home countries could force them to stop operating in the country.
But the NCAA, in a statement issued on Sunday by its spokesperson, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, stated that it was disturbed by reports that some foreign airlines were declining to accept naira as payment for tickets.
“In other words, some foreign airlines have blatantly resorted to selling tickets only in foreign currencies. This act is considered insensitive to passengers who have chosen the airlines for their travels,” it stated.
It quoted a CBN circular issued on April 17, 2015 directing that pricing of any product would continue to be in naira only, adding that it was illegal to price or denominate the cost of any product or service (visible or invisible) in any foreign currency.
The NCAA further stated that the action of the international carriers contravened the provisions of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and other countries as contained in Article 8 (4).
It stated that the agency had written warning letters to errant airlines to immediately comply with the provisions of the BASA and the CBN directive, adding that tickets and services should henceforth be offered to air travellers in naira without further delay.
The NCAA, however, assured the airlines that the Federal Government had taken measures to ameliorate the subsisting foreign exchange issues.