BA, Virgin, others dare Nigerian Govt, refuse to reduce exploitative fares

By Oyise Oghene

LAGOS-British Airways and Virgin Atlantic VAA has refused to reduce their exploitative fares charged from Nigerian passengers as the expiration date of the thirty days ultimatum issued by the Nigerian government draws to an end in 24 hours.

Our Correspondent was at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and discovered that Nigerian passengers were still paying higher fares than other passengers in West Africa Sub Region.

it is therefore expected that the Federal Government will move to sanction all the foreign airlines that fails to adhere to the thirty days ultimatum which was the stipulated days within which all arbitrary fares charged by foreign airlines should be reduced.

Earlier, British Airways had stressed in a statement to newsmen that its fares were in conformity with the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA), including the Tariffs Article of the treaty, which covers all aspects of fares between the two countries.

The airline noted that as mutually agreed by the UK and the Nigerian governments at bilateral talks in November 2011, the UK CAA was already undertaking an independent study of fares between the UK and Nigeria, as both governments agreed to await the outcome of that study in mid 2012, stressing that this is the correct procedure to follow under international law, which pertains to BASA as an international treaty between the UK and Nigeria.

British Airways said they remained committed to Nigeria and continues to serve the country and its people with daily flights to Lagos and Abuja .

‘’The comfort of our customers is of utmost importance to us, they are the very reason we remain in business, we are proud and delighted that we are able to offer a choice of different competitive fares, a choice of products and connections to our Nigerian customers’’, BA stated.

According to BA, comparing fares across different routes was notoriously difficult due to the number of factors which can influence pricing, just as distance and geographic location are just two relatively minor factors, which was of far greater importance including  factors such as market size, demand mix comparative operational costs and, most significantly capacity.

’This explanatory piece provides a full insight on British Airways’ position regarding fares from Nigeria, and why we are not able to just cut premium fares across the board and why such action would not, in any event, be in the interests of our passengers. In particular, Nigeria and Ghana differ substantially in terms of: The market in Ghana is smaller than Nigeria and has lower premium traffic as a proportion of total traffic”.

‘’Premium passengers in Nigeria tend to book closer to the date of travel which results in higher fares, and once revenue management principles are applied British Airways allocates a number of seats to each fare class and cheaper fares are available for bookings made in advance of the travel date but these will necessarily be limited to ensure that there are still seats available for purchase closer to the date of travel. This will therefore have an impact on prices, as it would do in any high demand/capacity restricted market’’.

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