As the issue of air fare disparity in West Africa continues to generate comments, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah has disclosed that British Authorities have refused to renegotiate the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) it signed with Nigeria in 1988.
She however maintained that Nigeria will not succumb to the blackmail of threats of breakdown in bilateral relations between Nigeria and the UK
Oduah who made disclosures during a solidarity visit by members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday in Abuja, said that the fare imbalance was a measure of the disrespect British Airways and other foreign Carriers hold for Nigerians, stressing that it was her responsibility to protect the interest of Nigerian passengers.
She insisted that any investor who was not ready to treat Nigerians with respect and dignity would be shown the way out.
This is as the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation yesterday threatened to impose sanctions on British Airways if the airline refuses to reduce its high air fare presently charged Nigerians.
Oduah said, “If what they are doing is right why are they not doing it elsewhere, why are they doing it in Nigeria alone.”
“Last time we signed BASA with Britain was in 1988. Each time we try to review it they (British Aviation Authorities) will refuse to sign because they think we are the only ones that need them; all this mentality has to change”, she told members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) who paid her a solidarity visit in her office in Abuja.
NBA officials visited her to throw their weight behind the government’s 30-day ultimatum issued to all foreign airlines to dismantle the regional fare imbalance within the West African sub-region or face a total ban from operating into Nigeria.
National President of the NBA, Joseph Abodunrin Dauda (SAN) who led other members of the Executive on the solidarity visit, said the action of government to protect Nigerian passengers from undue exploitation by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and other foreign airlines as well as the ultimatum has the full support of the Bar.
Dauda said the disparity in the fares charged passengers travelling from Nigeria to the UK and those travelling from Accra, Ghana was very obvious and unjustifiable, and commended the courage of Oduah to rise up to the challenge of halting this unfair treatment of Nigerians by foreign companies.”