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Panel Dismisses NCAA’s $235 Million Fine Against British Airlines despite Evidence of Guilt

By on February 10, 2012

The Justice Oguntade led panel instituted by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to determine the veracity of the $235 million fine imposed on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic for price fixing and exorbitant Passenger Fuel Surcharges has dismissed the case against the airlines.

The panel did not absolve the airlines of the wrong-doings; however it said that the NCAA was not empowered by law to impose any fines on the airlines.

Delivering a 20-page judgment in Lagos yesterday, the five man panel gave the legal opinion that the NCAA could not utilize the NCAA act of 2006 to take action against the airlines for infractions committed between August 2004 and March 2006.

The secretary to the panel Mr. Ukakwe briefing newsmen after the verdict yesterday stated that the NCAA Act of 1999 prescribe “Cease and Desist Order” as a penalty and that NCAA has been ordered to issue such an order to the offending airlines.

Reacting to the judgment, BA’s country manager stated, “It shows that even in Nigeria, things can still work. We said it earlier that we respect the law of the land and we never committed any violation. We have been in Nigeria for 75 years, and that we are committed to this country”.

Representative of Virgin Atlantic in Nigeria, Chief John Adebanjo, said, “On behalf of Sir Richard Branson, we are happy with the decision of the panel set up by the NCAA. We at VAL will look forward to serving the Nigerian market. We believe from day one that we never breached any of Nigeria’s law. We respect the office of the director-general of NCAA. We like to thank the Minister of Aviation. We believe in a just system like Nigeria.”

Aviation analysts are of the opinion that more recent charges could have been brought against the airlines, however the Federal Government must have been interested in providing a soft landing for the British airlines due to the wading into the matter by British Prime Minister, David Cameron.