Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nigeria rejects British Airways 20% fare reductions

As negotiations on the controversial London route continues between the Federal Government and its British counterpart, the Nigerian authorities have rejected offers put forward by the latter, including a 20% reduction in the price of the lowest business class ticket to London.

This came as the ultimatum given British Airways to facilitate restoration of Arik Air's slot on Abuja-London route expired yesterday.

Vanguard gathered that Arik Air will now also operate seven frequencies from Abuja to London, instead of the five it hitherto operated, which were suspended on October 29 as a result of the current crisis between Nigeria and the UK on the matter.

Ongoing negotiations between both governments, triggered by the intervention of British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, was occasioned by the muscling of Arik Air off the route, which compelled the federal government to also slash British Airways frequencies in Lagos from seven to three.

Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that the negotiating team of the British government offered to cut the lowest Business Class ticket by 20 per cent, which the Nigerian team rejected outright.

Consequently, the Nigerian team was said to have asked for an outright dismantling of the regional imbalance in the fare regime of British Airways and the other British carrier, Virgin Atlantic Airways, which gives the British carriers unfair advantage over Nigerian carriers on the route.

Vanguard gathered that the Nigerian team wanted equal fare regime that would confer a balance arrangement for citizens of both countries.

ACN backs FG

Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has said it fully supports the Federal Government's stance on the issue of full respect for the Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA, between the country and Britain.

In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party specifically hailed the way and manner the issue has been handled by the Aviation Ministry, which has responded in kind to the shabby treatment meted out to Nigeria flag carrier, Arik Air, in Britain.

It said:"'If British airlines must fly to Nigeria unhindered, under the framework of the BASA between the two countries, then Nigerian airlines must fly to Britain without hinderance."

Any move to the contrary is an attempt by one party to gain an unfair advantage over the other, and must be resisted to the hilt," it said.

ACN added: "The explanation by the Minister of Aviation that the face-off between the two countries is more about respecting the spirit and letter of the BASA between them, than any other consideration, gladdens our hearts, as it shows that Nigerians as well as the country's corporate citizens can be sure that their government will stand up to defend their rights when necessary.

"This is in consonance with what our party has always said: That the government must stoutly defend Nigerian citizens at home and abroad, to ensure that their dignity is not trampled upon anywhere. This is the only way our country and its citizens can stand tall in the comity of nations."

The party said the government must not relent in its ongoing efforts to ensure that Nigerian airlines flying into Britain are not shortchanged, and also use the opportunity presented by the development to carry out a holistic review of the Bilateral Air Service Agreements entered into with other countries, with a view to ensuring full respect for such pacts.

It said at a time the Jonathan administration is committing many unforced errors, to use a tennis parlance, due to poorly-conceived policies, the action of the Aviation Ministry represents what his government can achieve if it will only allow itself to be guided by the national interest.


Related stories: Nigerian government condemns foreign airlines' practices

Nigerian government moves to restrict British airways flights to Lagos

Virgin Atlantic ending partnership with Nigeria airlines

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