Nigerians Can Fly Cheaper Again as Foreign Airlines Reopen Low-Inventory Tickets

Nigerians who have been struggling with high airfare costs can now breathe a sigh of relief, as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced that foreign airlines have resumed offering low-inventory tickets in the country.

This means that Nigerians can access cheaper flights to various international destinations, thanks to the successful resolution of a long-standing dispute over trapped funds by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The NCAA’s director of public affairs and consumer protection, Michael Achimugu, confirmed this development in a post on X, where he praised the efforts of the NCAA, the CBN, and the international airline community in restoring normalcy to the ticketing operations in Nigeria. He said that the NCAA had held fruitful meetings with various aviation stakeholders, including representatives from foreign airlines, to address the issue of high airfares and low ticket availability.

The problem started in August 2022, when British Airways (BA) and other foreign carriers restricted access to their inventory in Nigeria’s global distribution system (GDS), citing difficulties in repatriating their funds from the country. This affected the ability of local travel agencies to offer tickets at more competitive rates, forcing many Nigerians to pay exorbitant prices for air travel.

However, on January 30, the CBN announced that it had cleared all verified foreign exchange (FX) claims by the airlines, releasing an additional $64.44 million to the affected foreign aviation companies. This paved the way for the reopening of the ticket inventory, which is expected to significantly lower the cost of air travel for Nigerians.

Achimugu said, “I am proud to announce that, after the meetings with international airlines on the 12th and 13th of February, all of the airlines – bar one, have reopened their low-inventory tickets for Nigerians to access lower ticket prices for international flights.

“Recall that most of these airlines had closed the low tickets to Nigerians for about a year, subjecting our citizens to only the highest possible airfares. But the swift intervention of Capt. Chris Najomo, DGCA, has eased the situation. More wins to come.”

The acting director-general of the NCAA, Chris Najomo, had earlier expressed concern over the high cost of airfares, especially on international routes. He said that the authority would set up a committee to review the situation and bring down the airfares. He said, “It has come to the notice of this authority about the increase and high cost of airfares, especially on international travels.

“And NCAA in a view of trying to make sure that these airfares are brought down, has decided to set up a high-powered committee which will look at all the variances and how we can bring these airfares down.

“We’ve met with the airlines and other stakeholders and other agencies we will make sure that this is done.”

Some of the foreign aviation firms operating in Nigeria are Lufthansa German Airlines, KLM, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, and Turkish Airlines. These airlines offer a wide range of options for both business and leisure travelers seeking more economical flight alternatives.

This development is a testament to the collaborative efforts between Nigerian aviation authorities, the CBN, and international carriers to address the challenges facing the aviation sector. It is also a welcome news for Nigerians who can now fly cheaper again.

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