NANTA accuses foreign airlines of ‘sharp practices’ over high cost of air fare

 

Moved by the astronomical cost of foreign ticket prices, the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), has faulted the  cumulative effect of taxes and surcharges which they said generates a final price to the consumer that can be as much as double the advertised airfare for a short-haul flight. 

 

This they said has led to astronomical cost of air tickets by foreign airlines.

 

The group at its 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Ibadan, Oyo State at the weekend,  stated that a situation where taxes that go to the airlines are higher than base fares is not accepted.

 

They have however called on the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Aviation to call foreign airlines to order over what they termed sharp practices.

 

According to them, consumers are often shocked by the difference between an advertised airfare and the price they ultimately pay for the airline ticket.

 

The reason for the discrepancy is that the amount advertised is usually the airline’s “base” airfare on which many surcharges and taxes are levied at the time of purchase.

 

Newly elected Financial Secretary of NANTA, Mrs. Ngozi Ngoka disclosed that foreign airlines make available on their website, fares which are much cheaper than those available on the agency booking platforms, faulting it as unfair competition, adding that the practice is running a lot of agencies out of business.

 

“We have documented evidence about this practice from Emirates airlines and KLM”, she said.

 

She stated that the group had made its position known to the aviation regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), stressing that regulation on it has not been helpful.

 

“Our position is that we want a unit to be set up and  look into fare structure of airlines. Fares are padded. A former Director-General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren was very helpful and seriously fought to stop the fleecing of Nigerians. In other climes, aviation regulators look at fare structures. Taxes are higher than base fares.”

 

Ngoka decried the astronomical cost of air ticket for example to London from Lagos or Abuja, hinting that a situation where air fares to London costs between N400, 000 and N450, 000 for economic class ticket from between N150, 000 and N200, 000 simply cannot be justified, notwithstanding falling Naira against the dollar.

 

She equally stated that First Class ticket on British carriers and other European airlines has gone up between N1million and N1.5 million to N3 million, describing it as “ludicrous.”

 

Speaking on other burning issues, she equally lambasted the sale of airline tickets by Nigerian Banks, adding that Banks in Nigeria have become “jack of all trades” and are gradually and consistently encroaching on all businesses including specialised areas such as there’s.

 

She said the Banks are not licensed to act as airline agents. To her, travel agents undergo a rigorous accreditation process before they are allowed to sell airline tickets.

 

“Why are airlines colluding with Banks to sell tickets by offering Banks commission and offering agents none? “, she added.

 

Ngoka stated that recently, the public had been inundated with adverts by Banks in the country making “ridiculous offers to the general public for the purchase of air tickets from such banks. This growing trend portrays a dangerous situation whereby the banks have abandoned their core business of providing financial services to the public and delving into a business venture that they are not legally licensed to perform.”

 

 

By: Sade Williams

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