NCAA’s Intervention Forces Foreign Airlines to Release Lower Ticket Inventory

*Nigeria maintains high passenger traffic on int’l destinations despite economic challenges

Chinedu Eze

Some foreign airlines, yesterday, released their lower inventory tickets hitherto not available since the trapped fund saga and the depreciation of the naira, after the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), intervened in the exorbitant airfares charged Nigerian travelers by international carriers.
This was disclosed by the acting Director General, NCAA, Capt. Chris Najomo, who said airlines like Lufthansa German Airlines, KLM, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, and Turkish Airlines had released their low ticket inventory.

However, while Air France, according to him, has failed to comply with the directives, the position of Virgin Atlantic was not mentioned at all.
To bring down the cost of flight tickets to international destinations, the Director General set up a 10-man Committee to look into the high cost of tickets in the country.

The Committee, Najomo said, came on the heels of a two-day high-level meeting held between NCAA and foreign airlines in Nigeria on the urgent need to unblock all low inventory tickets which were hitherto blocked for over 18 months.
He said the 10-man committee chaired by Director of Special Duties NCAA, Mr Horatius Egua, was charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the foreign airlines fully complied with the directives of the government to unblock all low inventory tickets as well as recommend appropriate pricing of tickets in Nigeria compared to similar markets in the West African sub-region.

NCAA said in the last several months, Nigerians had been made to pay higher fares on international flights unjustly as all the foreign airlines increased their flight tickets astronomically, citing the high exchange rate as well as other sundry issues and also deliberately blocked low inventory tickets making travel unbearable for Nigerians.

“This is very discriminatory in nature. We cannot continue to pay higher fares compared to other countries in the sub-region that have similar distances, using same operating aircraft. We have the market and in some cases we have more liberal taxes? This is unacceptable and we totally reject this.
“For instance, a distance of six hours from Ghana to London may sometimes cost about $800 while similar distance with similar operating aircraft cost over $2000 in Nigeria. This is discriminatory and an unfair practice and we reject this in totality.”  

The meeting to deliberate over the high airfares, which held at the headquarters of the NCAA, in Abuja, had in attendance representatives from the NCAA, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) made presentation on behalf of foreign airlines.
Meanwhile, the present economic challenges have not deterred Nigerians from travelling out of the country, as many airlines still record good passenger traffic to different destinations in the world.

This was confirmed by the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines,  Mr. Mesfin Tasew, who said despite the depreciation of the naira, the airline has maintained its high passenger volume on the Nigerian route.
Ethiopian Airlines is a top operator in the Nigerian market. In 2023, the airline operated 1,168 flights and airlifted 495, 263 passengers, coming second to  Qatar Airways, which operated 1,338 flights during the same period, airlifting 537, 352 passengers, the highest in the year.
Tasew said even though the Naira has been devalued many times, which has affected the airline’s cashflow on the Nigerian route, it has not affected the passenger volume because Nigerians are still travelling the way they have been travelling before.

“The naira has been devalued extensively and that has affected our cash management because since we are not able to take out our money, which is accumulating in Nigerian banks and due to the devaluation, we lost some money in the exchange rate.

“But in terms of passenger volume, we didn’t see any negative impact so far. The load is very good. Nigerians are still travelling abroad and they are using Ethiopian Airlines. The traffic volume is still at the same level. We didn’t feel it negatively,” Tasew said.aaaaaa

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