Nigeria’s federal government has given all foreign airlines operating in the country a 30-day ultimatum to end the discriminatory practice that sees Nigerian passengers paying higher fares than other passengers in West Africa.
According to local media reports Monday, Aviation Minister Stella Oduah issued the ultimatum in the capital city of Abuja Sunday, saying it would start counting from Monday (26Mar).
She said any international airline operating in Nigeria which failed to dismantle the fare imbalance and other sharp practices within the next 30 days would be banned from operating in the country.
In the wake of the impasse between British Airways and Nigeria’s Arik Air over the denial of landing slots of the latter at London Heathrow airport, the ministry had also raised concern over the huge fare disparity in the sub-region and demanded fare parity from British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic (VA) and other international airlines operating in the country.
“We are seriously concerned and worried by the reluctance to restore parity within the region by the foreign airlines. They have been using all kinds of delay tactics; this is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
”Nigerian passengers do not deserve this kind of exploitation and we are willing and ready to stand up to their rights,” she said.
Ms. Oduah said Nigeria remained an important and lucrative route for the international airlines, warning that any airline that is not ready to treat Nigerians with equity and dignity would be barred from operating in the country.
”In the interim, we encourage Nigerian travellers to avail themselves of other competitive alternatives while we try try to address and resolve this issue once and for all,” she said.
PANA reports that a one-way, first class fare along the Lagos-London route is US$5,408, whereas the same booking for a passenger on the Accra-London route is US$2,399.
Also, a one-way, business class fare on the Lagos-London route is US$3,685, compared to the US$2,049 on the same booking on the Accra-London route.
Last year, Nigeria’s federal government slammed a fine of US$235 million on BA and VA for alleged price-fixing on the Nigeria-UK route, but the fine was later overturned on appeal.