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Foreign Airlines Must Pay $249 million Fines, Royalties – Senate

By on November 7, 2012

Senate President, David Mark


The Senate President, Senator David Mark, on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to authorize the Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to compel Airline operators to pay loyalties.


The Airlines mentioned were, British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Lufthansa Airlines, David Mark requested that the airlines pay the sum of $249 million to the Federal Government, owed it in form of fines and royalties as stated in the Civil Aviation Act of 2006.


The Senate President made this request following recommendations from the Senate Committee on Aviation, which was authorized to investigate the violation of the nation’s aviation laws by foreign airlines and lapses in the sector.


The report presented by the committee showed that BA was fined with $135 million, Lufthansa $14 and  VAA $100 million.


The Senate President praised the Senator Hope Uzodinma led committee for their good work, adding that there were still areas to be covered.


He said, “I think you have done a lot of good work, there is no doubt about that, but I think there is a lot more the committee should have done or should do.


“I have not seen in this report where you have explained the difference in prices in airlines that exist between flying from Accra-London, Lagos-London or Abuja-London. You addressed it in the other volume you did but what I have not found here is the recommendations to remedy it because it is currently ongoing. I know we are talking of anti-trust laws but that is not the issue. If this had happened in the US, all those who had paid in the past, wouldn’t they have asked them to refund their money one way or the other?”


The committee termed the Civil Aviation Act of 2006 ‘weak’ and called for the review of the act. In his remark, the Senate President admitted that the laws were weak, defective, and not implementable.


He said, “Let me agree with you that our laws are weak, but even these weak laws are not fully implemented. Weak as the laws may be, they are not being fully implemented because it is this partial implementation of the weak laws that is giving you the authority to recommend some reform here. So, we already have problems with implementing laws we put in place.”


Speaking on the indiscriminate fare imposed by foreign airlines on customers, the Senate President asked, “Are we now helpless in this country? If the answer is yes, let us say so that BA can get up tomorrow and triple their fares. What can we do because Nigerians expect that we should be able to protect them so that people don’t take undue advantage of them?”


Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, while commending the report of the committee, called on government officials who travel abroad patronise our national carriers.


“I don’t see reason why government will use people’s money to fly abroad without using national carriers. If you do not practice nationality, there is no way the economy can grow. We cannot continue to hurt ourselves on every side. The committee should move to see that government at all levels support local airlines,” he said.


In addition, the report also recommended that Nigerian airlines be allowed to fly into Heathrow airport from Abuja in order to reduce monopoly by foreign airlines and Arik Airline be granted national flag carrier status.