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NCAA Panel to Decide on BA, Virgin Atlantic $235 Million Fine within Two Weeks

By on January 27, 2012

The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Harold Demuren has disclosed to pressmen that the panel sitting to deliberate on the $ 235 million fine levied on British Airways ($135m) and Virgin Atlantic ($100m) would soon reach a decision.

The panel was institued after the British Air Carriers insisted they were innocent of any wrong doing and not going to pay. The panel is mandated “with respect to the investigation into BA and VAA’s collusion, deceptive, unfair and anti-competitive practices especially with respect to the Passenger Fuel Surcharge.”

According to Demuren, ““The panel will look at it and then take a decision. If I am wrong they will say that I am wrong, but once I get their report and they say the people are wrong I will tell them to come and pay immediately. I believe that in two weeks you will be hearing from us.”

Speaking on his perception on the illegality of the activities of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, Demuren stated, “There were a lot of surcharge; they will tell you that the ticket price to London from Lagos is only, for example, N800 or N900 but your fuel surcharge is N600. Why? This is so high. What is that surcharge all about? You don’t pay tax on it, but you pay tax on the fare but you don’t pay tax on the surcharge.

“They are all methods to exploit the passengers. In the business and first class that was disaster. The fare you pay in Nigeria is thrice times what you pay in Ghana. All these are wrong.”
He justified the directive given to them earlier to pay the penalty, remarking that in other countries where they charged the passengers in the same way they paid penalty and Nigeria would not be different.

“They committed similar offence in America and they paid fine there; some of them even went to jail. Our market is open for exploration but we must close it for exploitation,” he said.
Demuren recalled why the regulatory body decided to investigate the two airlines and came up with the money they were asked to pay as penalty.

“So when I saw the report I found out that there were violations. According to our law I must make necessary sanctions. That was why I came out with those fines; that they should pay the fines. They looked at it and they said, we disagree with you; we don’t like it and that they were going to take another option. The law said that if you don’t agree you must set up a review panel. I said, okay, fine; we set up a review panel.”

Indicators point to the panel finishing their assignment within the fortnight.