By Chinedu Eze
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has ordered Ethiopian Airlines to stop forthwith the collection of unauthorised charges on travellers, which the airline referred to as â€œRefundable Deportation Feeâ€ of Â $75 to $150 per passenger.
NCAA said in a statement that Nigerians who are travelling to South Africa with the airline wereÂ compelled to pay the amount before boarding their flight.
The agency said it had been inundated with several complaints from passengers who were forced to pay the money.
According to investigation by NCAA, all outbound passengers to South Africa from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, transiting through Addis Ababa, were liable to pay $75.
Â â€œHowever, if your transiting time is 24 hours or beyond, the passenger will pay $150.
â€œWhile passengers are not given prior notice concerning these charges before arriving at the airports, some were made to sign undertaken to be responsible for all expenses incurred if deported.
â€œConsequent upon this, the Ethiopian Airlinesâ€™ country management were summoned by NCAA, where they claimed the fees were always refunded when a passenger was not deported.
â€œThe regulatory authority has found this unacceptable and viewed it as a violation of the Authorityâ€™s extant regulations,â€ NCA said.
The agency noted that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) Part 18.4.1(iii) stipulates that â€œall air carriers should obtain approval from the authority to introduce or increase add-on charges or surcharges prior to implementation.
â€œTill date, the authority has not received any request for fare increase, tariff or add-ons from the airline,â€ NCAA said.
In reaction to this infraction, NCAA said Ethiopian Airlines had been ordered to stop with immediate effect, these charges and noted that the airline could take advantage of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CAR) and obtain necessary approvals from the authority if it has genuine grounds to increase fares or obtain tariffs.
The agency therefore directed that subsequently, all operating airlines must endeavour to adhere to the regulations in all facets of their operations.Â
Â â€œIt is part of our statutory responsibilities to protect the rights of passengers and this we shall continue to do in accordance to the law,â€ NCAA said in the statement signed by the General Manager, Public Affairs department of the agency, Sam Adurogboye.