The Federal Competition and Consumers Protection Commission (FCCPC) has partnered the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to address the sudden hike in airfare as well as issues of consumer negligence in the aviation sector.
To this effect, the duo has set up a joint committee to investigate airlines’ compliance with regulatory standards as well as establish whether the increases were justified.
Nigerians have been complaining over the seeming arbitrary hike in airfare with tickets costing a minimum of N50,000 for a one-way domestic trip.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the consumer rights agency, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, while receiving the Director General of NCAA, Captain Nuhu Musa in his office in Abuja, said the aviation sector remained one of the industries with the highest number of consumer compliant.
He stressed that aviation should ordinarily have been the preferred choice of travel given its timeliness and safety but excesses of the operators had affected patronage.
He said, “In Nigeria today, it has by far become the most preferred method of travel not just for timeliness and safety comparative advantage the sector offers, but because of the depressed safety standards outside the aviation sector.
“When you have an industry of this nature, it becomes critical to the nationhood not just because of its contribution to the GDP, but because of its value to the society at large.
“If we needed any evidence of this, what has happened in the past week is the exact example. Immediately the information about the increase in airfare came to us, the volume of responses from the public was overwhelming. And the despondence we have seen underscores why the aviation sector has become the backbone of the nation’s life.”
Irukera said the concerns in the industry bothered on fairness to consumers.
He said, “In the past days, two sensitive issues have been noted which come under the umbrella of fairness to consumers. Fairness in the sense that how do we address the issues of delay and cancellation of flights in Nigeria? And the level of responses and sensitivity the airlines show when unavoidable delays and cancellation occurs.
“What appears to be a coordinated conduct which restraint competition has completely distorted the market which has become the vital backbone of the nation.”
He stressed that in reality, any type understanding or arrangement between competitors could only work in one direction, “and that’s hardship and the lost of value for citizens”.
He added that the aviation industry had become the highest place of complaints and dissatisfaction and hoped that the committee will work with the airlines to understand their mode of operations as well as the challenges to create a balance.