By Innocent Orok
President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) Mrs Susan Akporiaye says the announcement by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission ( FCCPC) to investigate the raging and unbelievable airfare regime in Nigeria, is a welcome development.
NANTA leadership in recent times and in response to the cries of Nigerian travelling public had taken decisive advocacy steps, and complained to the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the National Assembly Committee on Aviation to wade into the issue which has made life difficult for the members of the Nigerian travelling public and also impacting negatively on the survival of travel trade professionals in the country.
According to Mrs Akporiaye, NANTA is elated beyond measure by the response of the Federal Government through its Consumer Protection and Regulatory Agency to wade into this matter, which has become seemingly unending.
” We want to appreciate government through the Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, who has assured the sector that investigations would commence into the present structure of airfares in Nigeria and bring it to an acceptable regime” she stated.
According to the Executive Vice Chairman FCCPC, it is only fair to conduct a thorough investigation before decisive intervention steps are taken.
Mrs Susan Akporiaye, who in recent times with her team, initiated one of the most stringent advocacy for good practices in the down stream sector of the aviation industry in Nigeria, described Mr Irukera’s announcement as “a Christmas and new year gift” to travel agents who have borne the backlash of the fare hike by airlines operating in Nigeria.
“This is it, and we want to appreciate Mr. President, for gifting us an FCCPC, headed by a thorough professional, and to this end, we will endeavour to help the regulatory authority with whatever information that can help bring back sanity to fare management issues and give some respite to our Nigerian customers.
Babatunde Irukera on Thursday in Abuja, while hosting the press to the end of year party, promised to run a detailed investigation into the high airfare regime in Nigeria, noting that as important as that may sound, it is however a difficult task determining price hikes, particularly airfare.
He explained further, ” There’s a provision in law against price gouging. Nigeria is a free market economy where the buyer and seller agrees to determine cost. Do we, as a regulator, have the power to impose price? No, we don’t. So one way to determine excessive pricing is through investigation.
The FCCPC boss revealed in his detailed presentation, that forensic studies in airfare pricing remained the most complex in the market investigation ecosystem, adding that it’s possible to travel at a short distance and pay more, even with someone sitting beside you, paying something different.
Describing the phenomenon as a “competition issue,” Mr Irukera noted that there are many issues that must be considered when investigating hikes on airfare.
“We believe that airfare in Nigeria is too high, but it will amount to an abuse of office by the regulatory authority to take action just because we feel the price is high. Our duty is to establish evidence and confront the body, and that’s hardwork.” Mr Babatunde Irukera clarified.