Foreign Airlines Operators Play Into Nigerian Government Hands Selling Air Tickets in US, Dollar

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

In spite of efforts by the Nigerian government through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, to ensure that Emirates airline and other foreign airlines operating in the country, including the German airline, Luthansa, the Foreign airline operators appear determined to flout the CBN in the sale of their tickets.

Recall  that the 27 Foreign airline operators had claimed that they are currently faced with high operating costs  and thus, threatened last August ‘’to withdraw  their services in the face of unremitted  funds for the outstanding sale  of tickets’ to their home countries’.

The Foreign airline operators  had warned that if the government fail to take immediate step to save the nation’s aviation sector  from its financial difficult  in order for the operators  to still remain  in the business, they may be forced to withdraw their services from Nigeria  Se with effect from September 1, 2022.

 The threat may have put the CBN, on a high jump as it made efforts on August 26, 2022, to release $230 million as special intervention fund to the Foreign airline operators and an additional $30 million through the retail SMIS, auction to them, bringing the total  unremitted amount  released to the foreign airline operators to $265 million in this year alone.

Sirika: Minister of Aviation

Hadi Sirika, minister of Aviation had said that in 2016, the government released $600 million to the foreign airline operators which was said to have been remitted to their home countries. This clearly shows that between 2016 and now, the government, through the CBN, had released $865 million to the foreign airline operators that was said to have been transferred to their home countries. The minister may have given further  insight to the unlocked funds released to the  Foreign airline operators , stressing that it was  over $1.billion,  that  should have remained  in the country if they were local airlines

Given the impression been created by the foreign airline operators that the Emefiele led CBN, was against them from repatriating their funds to their home countries  may have informed why they decided to charge ticket sales in the north American country of the United States , US,  dollar, instead of the naira, which is Nigeria  only means of exchange as obtained in other countries.

The Magazine findings show that prior to the Foreign airline operators decision to sell tickets in US, dollars to  travellers from Nigeria to Europe or any part of the world, the Foreign airline operators do have their money in their respective bank accounts  in the country’s currency, the naira, from their ticket sales awaiting for it  to be converted  to the US, dollar, for possible transferr to their home countries and their naira account debited by the CBN.

 At present, some of the Foreign airline operators who are in a hurry to transfer funds from ticket sales to their home countries were said to have  refused  to sell their tickets  in the country’s local currency , naira, but in US, dollar.  The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCCA,   may have warned the Foreign airlines in 2016, when information filtered out that the foreign airline operators   are declining to accept the nation’s local currency, the naira   as payments for tickets.

 The agency was said to have warned the Foreign airline operators allegedly selling tickets in US, dollars to desist from it,  as  the act Contravened  the CBN, guidelines  on the cost of products or service in Nigeria. It is on record that the apex Bank had   in April, 2015,  had issued a Statement  that ’’pricing  of any product  shall  continue to be charged in naira only , noting that’’ it is illegal  to price or denominate  the cost of any product or service , visible or invisible , in any foreign currency’’. This may have informed why the government is determined this time around   to deal decisively with those foreign air operators that have refused to accept the naira in the sale of their tickets.

Perhaps to avoid stop the Foreign airline operators that have continued to reject the naira,  in the sale of their  tickets,  Sirika, the minister of Aviation, who could hide his feelings has urged  Nigerians  ‘’to refrain from   using  the social media  to place  their demands  rather than resorting to  the diplomatic channels’’.  This may have informed why the minister who has the backing of te Katsina  state born Nigerian President   has directed the NCCA,  ‘’to deal  decisively with any of such Foreign airlines that may be caught selling tickets in the US ,dollar against the naira.  

Many believe that the Foreign airline operators decision to sell tickets in the US dollar  instead of the naira may have been exhaustively discussed on  Wednesday, September 7, 2022, Federal Executive Council meeting,  FEC, at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, chaired by Buhari. The fallout of the meeting was a matching order that was said to have been given to NCCA, to sanction such Foreign airlines as a deterrence to others that want to follow suit.  

Nuhu: DG, NCCA, Given A Ministerial Order To Sanction Foreign Airline Operators Selling Tickets In Dollars

While the Foreign airline operators are still trying to make nonsense of the CBN act,  the NCCA,  which has the support  of the minister of Aviation, had  on Tuesday, September 6, 2022,  at  a meeting  organised by the ministry  and its agencies  with  thescheduled airline operators and ground handlers  threatened  to sanction the airlines over a N19 billion debt.  Musa Nuhu, Director General, NCCA, reportedly said that the agency had made several appeals the Foreign airline operators to pay their debts but to no avail.

Indeed, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, letter to Sirika, the minister of Aviation, demanding a review of the multiple charges from aviation agencies, coupled with the hardline position of the Foreign airline operators    against the Nigerian government over the alleged $450 million unremitted funds from outstanding sales of tickets to their home countries and threat of withdrawal services from Nigeria if not paid may have forced the NCCA, to demand for its unpaid N19 billion debt. The agency had warned   that ‘’sanctions would be taken against any of the defaulting airlines which refused to pay their outstanding debt to the agency for services rendered.

The airline operators were said to have been given between August 30, 2022 to September 30, 2022, 2022, an interval of one month to pay the debt.  Nuhu, the NCCA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had made it clear to those that cares to listen in the nation’s aviation  sector that airline operators  that fail to settle their debt  within the specified  period  will be ‘’suspended’’.  This is bad news AON, members. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *