By Chinedu Eze
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has directed all airlines selling flight tickets in dollars to desist forthwith, describing the action as a flagrant contravention of Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) “prerequisite guiding cost of products or services in Nigeria.”
The agency which had already written to the airlines on the directive, said the CBN circular issued on April 7, 2015, directed that “Pricing of any product shall continue to be in naira only and it is illegal to price or denominate the cost of any product or service (visible or invisible) in any foreign currency.”
NCAA therefore said it was disturbed by reports that some foreign airlines are declining to accept Nigeria’s local currency – the naira as payment for tickets.
In other words, “some foreign airlines have blatantly resorted to selling tickets only in foreign currency. This act is considered insensitive to passengers who have elected on their own volition to choose the airlines for their travel,” the regulatory body said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye.
NCAA noted that such action is contrary to the provisions of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and other countries as contained in Article 8 (4).
“As a consequence of this action, the regulatory authority has written warning letters to such erring airlines to immediately comply with the provisions of BASA and CBN directive. Sales of tickets and services should henceforth be offered to air travellers in naira without further delay.
“However, the federal government of Nigeria has taken measures to ameliorate the subsisting foreign exchange issues,” NCAA said.
THISDAY spoke to foreign airlines, which denied that they sell tickets in dollars but said that their booking system is always open and anybody fro any part of the world could book flights “and the acceptable currency all over the world is dollars.”
A source from a major foreign carrier said it receives naira directly from customers but aware that during the period when there was parallel market and official exchange rate, some banks insisted in payment in dollars or the customers would use the parallel exchange rate to pay the equivalent of the dollar rates advertised.
Also an indigenous carrier that advertises its fares in dollars argued that it is an international airline and therefore advertises its fares in dollars but in Nigeria it accepts naira payment, noting that every airline ought to sell tickets in local currency.