The Federal Government has been advised to give Nigerian air travellers multiple payment options, rather than insisting on naira payment.
The President of Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr Gabriel Olowo, advised during an exclusive interview with Nairametrics in Lagos. According to him, allowing air travellers on international routes to pay in dollars and other recognised foreign currencies would expunge the alleged ‘exploitation of Nigerian travellers’ by foreign airlines.
He further explained that this would enable foreign airlines to open all their inventories for sale, rather than blocking lower inventories for travellers as has been alleged by some players in the country’s aviation industry.
More on the advice: Olowo insisted that the services of foreign airlines are highly required in Nigeria as the current indigenous airlines could not cover the gaps in the system due to the challenges in the Nigerian aviation industry.
He also explained that the insistence on payment for airfares in naira by passengers on international routes was working against the country. He said:
- “I beg to disagree that Nigerians are being exploited through various restrictions on sellable fares at the Point of Sales (PoS). It’s a result of our chances, choices and consequences. Nigeria chose to limit payment of travel only to naira, whereas fares globally are denominated in United States dollars. In our case, naira payment is enforced despite the glaring weakness of the currency.
- “Whereas Nigerian airlines whose major fuel uplift is here at home, are bleeding, not to mention foreign carriers whose major cost elements are borne at their head offices outside Nigeria. Earning net of taxes has huge backing of remittance, dating back to more than a year in the face of galloping devaluation.
- “The alternative is to permit payment options in US dollars, credit cards and or any other strong currency, but not restricted to naira. You can be sure the airlines will open all inventory immediately for sale because dollars will be remitted for dollars.”
Olowo also regretted the failure of the Federal Government to establish a new national carrier for the country in almost eight years of this administration despite being one of the major roadmaps by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.
He said the establishment of a national carrier would have reduced the pressure on the naira, insisting that until the country birthed strong airlines, the current situation would continue unabated.
- “No amount of appeal or coercion will solve the problem. It is simply market dictates,” he said.
In case missed it: Earlier in the month, the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) accused foreign airlines of exploiting Nigerian travellers through high airfares.
The body also reported the issue to the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and appealed to the body to intervene in it.
Mrs Susan Akporiaye, President of NANTA emphasised that NANTA was committed to protecting its members and their businesses from any form of exploitation and unfair practices from any quarter, hence the called for intervention by the FCCPC for guidance and solutions-driven advice on the face-off with foreign airlines over the vexing issue.