- NCAA summons airline, orders it to desist forthwith
THERE is evidence to the fact that Ethiopian Airlines is illegally charging Nigerian passengers an extra US$40 to US$150 if they are to fly Lagos to Johannesburg on board the airline, a charge not approved by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) according to Nigerian laws.
Nigerian Flight Deck discovered this after an airline passenger had told the online portal that he was charged the said amount on his way to South Africa via the airline under the guise that the charge is in case of repatriation of Nigerian nationals.
The US$ 40 charge, our portal gathered, has been on; albeit covertly, for over two years without passengers raising eyebrow until discovered.
According to a source the charges were as a direct result of repatriation from South Africa some years back with airlines bearing the burden of the cost of repatriating the passengers however, the charges imposed on flying passengers is not legal as it has not gone through approval of the NCAA and is being done without knowledge of the authorities.
Nigerian Flight deck was able to reach the General Manager of Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria, Mr. Solomon Bergashaw, who when contacted denied all knowledge of such a charge, saying he did not know anything about it.
However, that day it was learnt from an authoritative source that the Ethiopian GM had been summoned by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority over the issue as apparently the NCAA had discovered the fraud from their own sources.
The source further said that a high-powered delegation of the regulatory body met with Ethiopian Airlines Thursday last week in an effort to investigate and ascertain the level of infraction the airline has committed.
She said,”the NCAA is investigating the matter and would get to the bottom of it especially as the charge was not approved by the regulators.”
The charge, it is learnt, is supposed to be refunded on return of the passenger and some refunds have been made but on many occasions passengers do not receive the refunds or it takes a herculean process to get the funds out as the airline invents technicalities to keep hold of the funds.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) after meeting with Ethiopian Airlines management in Nigeria has ordered the airline to stop forthwith the illegal collection of unauthorized charges.
According to the NCAA in a statement signed by General Manager Public Affairs, Sam Adurogboye, these unauthorized charges referred to as Refundable Deportation Fee is put at between $75 (Seventy-five dollars) and $150 (One Hundred and Fifty US dollars).
All South Africa bound passengers on Ethiopian Airlines are compelled to pay this amount before boarding.
The Authority has been inundated with several complaints from many passengers that have suffered this fate.
According to investigation by NCAA, all outbound passengers to South Africa from Murtala Mohammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos and Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, transiting through Addis Ababa, are liable to pay $75 dollars. However, if your transiting time is 24 hours or beyond, the passenger will pay $150 dollars.
While passengers are not given prior notice concerning these charges before arriving at the airports, some were made to sign undertaken to be responsible for all expenses incurred if deported.
Consequent upon this, the Ethiopian Airlines’ Country management were summoned by NCAA, where they claimed the fees were always refunded when a passenger was not deported.
The Regulatory Authority has found this unacceptable and viewed it as a violation of the Authority’s extant regulations.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) Part 18.4.1(iii) stipulates that “all air carriers should obtain approval from the Authority to introduce or increase add-on charges or surcharges ………. prior to implementation.”
Till date, the Authority has not received any request for fare increase, tariff or add-ons from the airline.
On this strength, Ethiopian Airlines has been ordered to stop with immediate effect these illegal charges. The Airline could take advantage of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CAR) and obtain necessary approvals from the Authority if it has genuine grounds to increase fares or obtain tariffs.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) hereby warns all operating airlines to endeavour to adhere to the Regulations in all facets of their operations. It is part of our statutory responsibilities to protect the rights of passengers and this we shall continue to do in accordance to the law.