The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has summoned officials of Emirates Airlines to a meeting today, as it continues its investigations into allegations that the airline recently asked its passengers travelling out of Nigeria to pay for air tickets in the United States dollar.
This is coming as some other international carriers have reduced their frequencies into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, amid operational challenges.
Many international carriers in Nigeria have complained of the challenges they face in the sector, particularly the scarcity of foreign exchange and the inability to repatriate their funds in dollars.
Our correspondent gathered that some of the carriers recently rejected the naira as they argued that based on the Bilateral Air Services Agreement, they should be able to repatriate their funds.
It was also gathered that airlines such as Emirates were also demanding passengers to pay for air tickets using their debit cards, a claim which the airline confirmed but failed to state if the debit card payments were to be done in dollars or naira.
When asked to speak on allegations that Emirates had mandated its passengers to make payments for air tickets in dollars instead of naira, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, told our correspondent that the authority had heard of the complaint.
He stated that the civil aviation regulator was investigating the matter, adding that it had summoned the carrier in question to appear before the agency on Wednesday (today).
Adurogboye said, “The NCAA is still carrying out an investigation into the operations of the said airline. The airline is being summoned for a meeting this week Wednesday, October 5, 2016 to iron out some issues.”
Officials at the NAIA told our correspondent that although the airline had been meeting with its scheduled flights, its passengers had been complaining about its reported mandate to make payments for tickets in dollars.
“Emirates wants to be selling its air tickets in dollars and the NCAA is against this. This is an issue that is being investigated by the regulatory agency; but the airline has been keeping up with its scheduled flight services despite the concerns,” an official at the NAIA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on Tuesday in Abuja.
An official of Emirates, however, denied claims that the airline was demanding dollars from its travellers for the purchase of air tickets, but admitted that the airline “compelled” passengers going to Brazil to use their debit cards to make purchase.
In a text message response to our correspondent, the official said, “Thanks for calling to find out. Emirates did not reduce flight services to Abuja airport. The demand to get air tickets in dollars is not true; rather Nigerians going to Brazil are compelled to purchase tickets using their debit cards.”
The official, however, did not state if the payment using debit cards would be done in dollars or naira.