The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has warned airlines against continuing to sell flight tickets to travelers beyond the period of their scheduled shutdown of operations in the country’s aviation industry.
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have already threatened to cease operations and shut down the country’s aviation sector from Monday, May 9.
The operators have already made a public announcement that it would be practically impossible for them to continue flight operations beyond the scheduled date under the prevailing circumstances of high and rising cost of jet fuel.
But, the consumer protection agency said despite the announcement most airlines were still selling flight tickets to travelers beyond the date the shutdown is scheduled to take effect.
In a statement in Abuja on Saturday, the FCCPC expressed concern that consumers’ feedback showed that airlines have continued to sell tickets beyond the date announced for the proposed service shutdown.
“To the extent that this is accurate, and the airlines have decided and are resolute, it will be egregious exploitation of consumers and a violation of law to purport to sell a service that the service provider knows it will not, or does not intend to provide or deliver.
“It is misleading and deceptive under Section 123 of the FCCP Act to represent that a service will be delivered on a certain date when the provider knows the same is false or improbable,” the agency said.
Urging domestic airlines to consider the effect of the proposed shutdown on passengers and the magnitude of difficulties and hardship associated with such an action, the Commission called for continuous engagement with the relevant stakeholders on how to resolve the issues.
“The Commission does not trivialise the disruption and potential challenge to business continuity and survivability an inordinately high cost of jet fuel presents to domestic aviation, especially coupled with other rising cost of operations and foreign exchange,” the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Babatunde Irukera, said.
Irukera said the Commission has been in discussion with the leadership of major fuel marketing companies in the country to understand the global supply challenges and possible steps to ameliorate the same.
He proposed an engagement among all relevant stakeholders across the fuel supply value chain to mitigate the current constraints and develop an acceptable interim arrangement to address problems and costs associated with global supply constraints on account of the Russia-Ukraine war, sanctions associated with the war, and a fragile ongoing post-pandemic recovery in aviation.
Irukera said the Commission was optimistic that the airline operators would not deliberately sell tickets for flights they do not intend to operate, as he was hopeful that a solution short of a shutdown would emerge accordingly.
“The Commission continues to monitor this sensitive and evolving situation and remains committed to supporting engagements to provide solutions and stability,” he said.