NCAA threatens foreign airlines over naira rejection for ticket purchase

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By Odunewu Segun

Following complains by some passengers that airlines now reject the naira for transaction, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has warned all airlines to desist from the act, describing it as a flagrant contravention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s prerequisite guiding cost of products or services in Nigeria.

The spokesperson of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, the agency has concluded plans to meet with foreign airlines operating in the country to resolve the issue, adding that passengers have the right to make payment in naira.

The aviation authority, on Tuesday, September 27, confirmed receiving complaints from some passengers over the rejection of naira and the demand for credit cards as the mode of payment for tickets.

He admitted that the industry is indeed facing some challenges, particularly the scarcity of foreign exchange and inability of foreign airlines to repatriate their funds.

“The truth is that the airlines are beginning to reject the naira because of the special circumstances that they have found themselves. In the BASA agreement, when you sell your tickets, you should be able to repatriate your money; but presently the airlines are finding it hard to take their money home,” he said.

ALSO SEE: Two airlines grounded by NCAA for safety

Adurogboye explained that the agency is working on how to resolve the problem. “We will be meeting with the airlines soon because this situation is exceptional and we cannot just wield the big stick against them,” he said.

The foreign airlines in the last one year have been facing difficulties on how to repatriate funds to the tune of $600 million. The introduction of foreign exchange flexible policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) notwithstanding, a substantial part of the fund remains stuck till date.

Recall that Emirates Airlines two days ago rejected the Nigerian currency, naira, for payment by travellers to Brazil. The Dubai-based airline demanded a credit card mode of payment from passengers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

The development, which caught many passengers unawares, caused some of them to be left behind, despite having bought tickets weeks earlier.

National Daily gathered while some passengers were turned back by the airline’s officials at the counter for already buying tickets in naira, they also ensured that a passenger who had earlier checked in for the 5:55 p.m. Lagos-Dubai Sunday flight never boarded the plane.

The Emirates office in Lagos yesterday confirmed that the credit card mode of payment is indeed the company’s policy, though it would not explain the rationale.

According to Adurogboye, the agreement provides for ticket payment either in local currency or official currency of the airline’s host country, but as preferred by the passenger.