Speaker House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Wednesday- decried the high fares charged by international airlines in the country. The lawmakers also condemned the non-adherence of these airlines to the local content law in terms of the composition of their cabin crews and the cuisine served on board their flights originating from or terminating in Nigeria.
The lower chamber of the parliament has therefore resolved that the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other relevant agencies should prevail on these airlines to reduce the high fares and ensure compliance with the Nigerian Local Content law.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Emmanuel Ekon (PDP/Akwa Ibom) and 31 other lawmakers. In the lead debate, Ekon who represents Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika federal constituency described the current fares charged by international airliners as arbitrary.
He explained that air fares on trips from Nigeria to Europe, America and other parts of the world were the highest compared to flights operated by the same airlines in other countries.
“Analysis from a Global Distribution Survey (GDS) reveals that the air fares on international routes in Nigeria are the highest in the whole world. This same data also reveals that each international flight leaves this country with a minimum of 300 passengers per day, making Nigeria one of the most lucrative routes in the world.
“It is also worthy of note that the cost of aviation fuel in Nigeria is cheaper than what obtains in most countries of Europe, America and even in other African countries. It is however sad and unfortunate that Nigerians pay 23 per cent more on tickets whether first class or economy than their counterparts in other parts of the world on similar flight time and mileage,” the lawmaker decried.
There is also a great disparity between the dollar per mile rate that international airlines charge on Nigerian routes and most other international routes,” the lawmaker said.
Ekon argued that apart from the financial rip-off, international airlines do not also adhere to the Nigerian Local Content Law as these airlines hardly recruit Nigerians as cabin crew members and hardly serve Nigerian dishes on flight dominated by Nigerians. Besides, Ekon alleged, these foreign airlines are in the habit of deploying small and substandard aircraft to Nigerian routes.
He said such situations were unacceptable considering the huge profits made by these airlines from their operations in Nigeria.
The lawmakers unanimously passed the motion seeking a reversal of the situation and referred the matter to the House Committee on Aviation for further action.