All eyes would beam on the Senate Committee on Aviation today as it commences probe on the anti-competive practices allegedly perpetrated by foreign airlines within nation’s aviation sector.
The public hearing which will hold at the Senate would among other related issues investigate all unwholesome activities by foreign airlines particularly British Airways and Virgin Atlantic on the vexed matter of discriminatory airfares against Nigerians.
Already, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma at the weekend summoned the two foreign airlines and the Ministers of Aviation, Foreign Affairs, some banks and other stakeholders.
Essentially, the Senate had in a resolution mandated the Committee on Aviation to investigate all issues relating to compliance or non-compliance with relevant aviation laws and all unwholesome activities by foreign airlines and Regulatory Authorities.
The resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Uzodinma in which he pointed out to the Senate the violation of the Aviation Laws by Foreign Airlines in Nigeria.
He asked the Senate in the motion to note with concern that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority recently investigated and indicted British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways for collusion, unfair and deceptive anti-competitive practices with the Nigeria Aviation Airspace;
“And also to note with even greater concern that the investigation established that the two airlines colluded and cooperated in fixing, raising and maintaining the Passenger Fuel Surcharge (PFS) for travellers to and from Nigeria.
However, Uzodinma held that following the indictment by NCAA, British Airways and Virgin appealed against it to an administrative panel, which on February 9, 2012 upheld the indictment and pronounced both airlines liable of illegality and violation of the nation’s Civil Aviation laws.
Continuing, he told the Senators that he was concerned that the alleged conduct of the two airlines actually translates to colossal loss of revenue to the Federal Government accruals from the statutory 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC), to the magnitude of $235 million or N3.7 billion excluding heavy financial losses to travel agencies and Nigeria travellers.