A former director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. Harold Demuren, has urged the federal government to allow first class and business class passengers to buy tickets in dollars while economy class passengers can pay in naira. .
Demuren suggested this as a way to resolve the dispute between Nigeria and foreign airlines over the airlines’ $464 million.
He said this at the Aviation Round Table Second Quarter 2022 Breakfast Business Meeting themed “Perspective in Multi-layer Aviation Security System and Passenger Facilitation” held in Lagos on Thursday.
According to the former NCAA chief, this would help the carriers easily repatriate their funds and end the issue of stuck funds or, at best, significantly eliminate the problem.
Airlines on APG Interline Electronic Ticketing Agreements GP code 275 had announced in April this year that it would start issuing tickets in US dollars and not naira. Demuren’s position is with foreign airlines that initially planned to ask passengers from Nigeria to pay for their tickets in dollars.
This new policy, the group said, was caused by the difficulty in repatriating the huge funds of airlines trapped in Nigeria and other countries due to the currency crisis.
When asked whether allowing foreign airlines to charge dollars for first-class and business-class tickets wouldn’t hurt national pride, Demuren said: “Listen to me, you have to see emotions. What do people spend when they leave the coasts of Nigeria? naira? The first class and the business class people are people who have money, and who can pay in dollars, but that’s because of the current forex crisis.
“I know there is pride in the national currency and I believe there is a great disparity between naira in the official and parallel markets and one that leads to speculation. It’s dangerous.
“This problem must be solved and we must stop this problem. Is your family abroad? Okay, are you going by boat to see them when the airlines stop operating? They have money, but they can’t withdraw it. It is not done in other places. You must limit your losses. What I’m saying is we can fix it.”
The Minister of Aviation, DG NCAA and the Minister of Finance are working on it. They sit down to look at it, but it will continue to grow.
“Airlines have left and have not returned. At the end of the day, if they don’t get their returns, it’s not a good thing for anyone to do. We have to face it. If the government has a solution, that’s great. They have to work together.
“This government did not cause it. It’s a problem we have. If Nigeria sells oil, we have a lot of oil. We have to make sure we solve it together,” he added.