Airlines block seats, tickets sale in dollars

International airlines operating into Nigeria have begun the blocking of seats on their flights in a bid to create an impression they have full flights.
This new system provides opportunity for the carriers to maximise profits, thereby forcing desperate travellers to pay more for the same seats that ordinarily should cost less.


This is coming at a time the carriers; particularly European carriers that ply Lagos, Abuja from London and Amsterdam have perfected this plot to fleece travellers.
Contacted, spokesman for Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye said the authority would investigate the allegation.
Aside that, worried by the sliding Naira, foreign carriers now prefer to accept dollar to the Naira for payment of tickets.
Sources said the carriers clandestinely give discounts if customers are willing to pay in the United States currency because of the fast depreciation of Naira.
A top official of one of the European airlines who spoke to under strict condition of anonymity said the situation of the downward fall of Naira would make any business man to prefer to do business in dollar, stressing that the unpredictability of Naira makes it so.
However, some travel agents frowned at thedevelopment, arguing that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been magnanimous to peg the exchange rate for the airlines at N200 at $1 at official rate, stressing that the carriers are ripping Nigerian travellers off.
The source stated that the airlines do not abide by the policy, but rather choose to sell tickets at the parallel market rate.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government was worried by the use of dollar as means of payment or legal tender in the local market in Nigeria. The practice is seriously undermining the naira as most Nigerians are fast losing confidence in the local currency as a store of value.
The naira is the only legal tender in the country, but in most parts of Nigeria, Lagos in particular, lands are sold in dollars, prices of some products are denominated in dollars, school fees are quoted in dollars, hotels charge dollars for rooms – same is true for other services.
In Japan and other developed countries, payments for any local transactions are done in the local currency unit; their nationals insist you pay for goods and services in local currency.
While government had unveiled its policy, the other policy on funds transfer out of the country is causing ripples in the airline industry as foreign carriers kicked against inability to repatriate their monies out of the country.
Following the difficulty of repatriating earnings from Nigeria, some foreign airlines began restricting fares from Nigeria last October, thus indirectly causing fares to become expensive, especially on second tier routes from Lagos, like, London – Atlanta, New York, Miami, São Paulo, Houston; or Frankfurt – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Shanghai, etc.
Restrictive fares on such routes which made flying more affordable are no longer published locally by the airlines, but have unrestricted published fares which are expensive.
An airline told recently that it had over N70 billion stuck in banks, which it was unable to repatriate.
He said “You know the airline industry relies heavily on cash to meet its commitments. This has become of serious concern to us. Our fear is that the pressure on the Naira may likely lead to a devaluation which will erode our funds in Nigerian banks by about 35-45 per cent. And we want to avoid this risk.”

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Wole Shadare