2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
FG to sanction foreign airlines selling tickets in dollars
The Federal Government yesterday threatened to sanction foreign airlines selling tickets to Nigerians in dollars. It insisted that such a practice is a violation of Nigerian laws.
Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said this while addressing State House correspondents after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Sirika said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had been instructed to protect the interest of Nigerians against reported airlines’ operational malpractices.
The minister said no violator, however high or mighty, would be spared, when caught for infractions.
He said intelligence revealed that some airlines refused naira and instead charged their ticket fares in dollars in violation of the nation’s laws.
According to him, some others have blocked local travel agencies from accessing their websites for transactions.
“I want to use this opportunity to say that reports are reaching us that some of the airlines are refusing to sell tickets in naira. That is a violation of our local laws. They will not be allowed. The high and the mighty amongst them will be sanctioned, if they’re caught doing that.
“NCAA has been directed to swing into action, and once we find any airline violating this, we will definitely deal with them. Also, they blocked travel agents from access. They also made only the expensive tickets available, and so on, so forth.
“Our regulators are not sleeping. We have a very vibrant NCAA. Once they found any airline guilty, that airline will be dealt with because we need to protect our people. It is according to our agreements to what we have signed. And this is according to international conventions,” Sirika said.
The minister announced that foreign airlines had made over $1.1 billion from Nigeria since 2016, which could have been retained in the country, if they were local airlines.
He recalled that the airlines remitted over $600 million to their home countries in 2016 while over $265 million has been released this year out of about $484 million due to them.
Sirika said the Federal Government was trying to keep the airlines happy by ensuring that their money does not pile up again.
The minister stressed that while the country needs their services, the airlines also need the Nigerian market.
He warned them to refrain from using the social media to press home their demands rather than use diplomatic channels.
Sirika also described as irresponsible and embarrassing, a report that Federal Government’s Nigeria Air had gulped over N14.6 billion of government’s funds, though it has only five per cent stake in the airline.
According to him, the government has only spent N651 million (N352 million and N299 million) for what he called transactional advisory services approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), but yet to be disbursed as the consultants were yet to finish their work.
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