The Federal Government has issued a threat to deal decisively with any foreign airlines selling tickets to Nigerians, in Dollars.
The FG reinterated the fact that such practice is a violation of Nigerian laws.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, on Wednesday.
President Mohammadu Buhari presided over the FEC meeting at that Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Minister said that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had been instructed to protect the interest of Nigerians against reported airlines’ operations malpractices.
He warned that no violator, no matter how highly placed, would be spared if caught in violation.
He disçlosed that investigations carried out by the government showed that some of the airlines were refusing Naira and charging their ticket fares in Dollars in violation of the country’s laws
He added that some others blocked local travel agencies from accessing their websites for transactions, choosing to release expensive tickets.
“I want to use this opportunity to say that reports are reaching us that some of the airlines are refusing to sell tickets in naira. That is a violation of our of local laws, they will not be allowed. The high and the mighty amongst them will be sanctioned, if they’re caught doing that.
“NCAA had been directed to swing into action and once we find any airline violating this, we will definitely deal with them. Also, they blocked the travel agents from access. They also made only the expensive tickets available and so on so forth.
“Our regulators are not sleeping, we have a very vibrant Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Once they found any airline guilty, that airline will be dealt with because we need to protect our people. It is according to our agreements, to what we have signed and this is according to international convention.
“So going forward, they should desist from doing things that are outside of the law. They should also desist from writing us and putting things in social media. They should go through diplomatic channels if they want response from federal government”, he warned.
According to him, foreign airlines made over $1.1 billion from Nigeria in 2016, when the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration cleared the $600 million , it inherited from previous government, saying if it was retained in the country through Nigerian official airlines, it would have created jobs
Sirika recalled that the airlines remitted over $600 million to their home countries in 2016 while over $265 million has also been released this year out of about $484 million due to them.
He said the government was trying to keep the airlines happy by ensuring that their money does not pile up again, stressing that while the country needs their services, the airlines need the Nigerian market.
The Minister warned the foreign airlines to refrain from using the social media to press home their demands rather than resorting to the diplomatic channels.
Sirika, frowned at reports that the Federal Government of Nigeria Air project setup has already gulped over N14.6 billion of government’s funds despite having only five per stake in the airline.
He described the news report as irresponsible, embarrassing and lies.
He claimed that government had spent N651 million (N352 million and N299 million), on transactional advisory services approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), adding that it was yet to be disbursed as the consultants are yet to finish their works.