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Thursday, 1 December 2011


Worried by the groundswell of established claims of human rights violations, unfair method of competition and deceptive practices by the British Airways and other foreign Airlines, a call has gone to Nigerian travelers to boycott these airlines for indigenous airlines that offer better services.

In a media statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media Affairs officer Miss Zainab Yusuf, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA; (HURIWA) also tasked the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to activate effective and efficient mechanism and strategies for ensuring that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways pay the Compensation of N3.3 Billion to their Nigerian passengers for the identified violations and trade malpractices.

HURIWA recalled specifically that recently, the British mega carriers, British Airways and virgin Atlantic Airways were ordered by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to pay $235 million USD as compensation to Nigerian passengers for their unfair method of competition, deceptive practices and gross violation of Nigerian law.

The Rights group which lauded the decision of the nation’s aviation minister Stella Oduah for the current decision to ensure that foreign airlines are not allowed to continue to exploit Nigerian passengers, also stated that soon it will begin an aggressive advocacy campaign to encourage prospective travelers from Nigeria to embrace the use of clean and human right friendly airlines especially those that are indigenously owned as one way of providing employment opportunities for Nigerians and to restore the dignity of the Nigerian travelers in the eyes of members of the International Community.

HURIWA said it will in January 2012 begin the collection of signatures from at least two million Nigerians who are in support of the sanctions imposed on the British Airline and the Virgin Atlantic Airways by the Nigerian authority for the maltreatment of Nigerian air travelers and the gross violation of the extant local statutes in the operations of these foreign airlines.

HURIWA stated that; “We have always frowned at the discriminatory ticketing regimes that prospective air travelers are subjected to by the foreign Airlines and especially British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways. We are shocked that these defaulting foreign Airlines have remained adamant about whether the Nigerian passengers should be validly compensated even in the face of overwhelming evidence that these foreign Airlines are already compensating similar consumers in Britain – their home country and the United States for similar violations of extant laws. The failure to pay this compensation to the Nigerian passengers of these foreign airlines could be likened to racism”.  

“We are shocked at the recent revelation that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways operate approximately 90 percent of the direct flights between Nigeria and the United Kingdom thereby operating a duopoly which consequently limits the choices of airlines for Nigerian consumers and forcing them to cough out outrageous ticketing fees”.

The Rights group asserted that legal facts available to it indicate clearly that beginning from 2004 and continuing to 2006, British Airline and Virgin Atlantic Airways allegedly colluded together and started a conspiracy to fix, periodically, increase and maintain Passenger Fuel Surcharges (PFS) as a component of the fare passengers pay to travel.

“We are aware that this collusion and conspiracy was ultimately discovered and became the subject of investigation in the US and UK and several class actions to protect consumers. British Airline has since pleaded guilty to the criminal conduct in the US and paid a criminal penalty of $300 Million and a fine of £121 Million in the U.K based on investigations by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) and U.K. Office of Fair Trading (OFT)”, HURIWA added.

The Rights group wondered why the foreign airlines have failed to pay their Nigerian passengers this compensation even when both airlines have settled consumers in the U.S. and U.K. approximately $204 Million in compensation of the anti-competitive method of setting and conspiring to increase the passengers’ fuel surcharges.

HURIWA charged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to vigorously enforce the Nigerian law which prohibit these unfair trade practices and these unacceptable financial burdens imposed on hundreds of thousands of Nigerian passengers by the British Airline and Virgin Atlantic Airways even as it called on Nigerians to patronize Nigerian owned airlines that are equally providing similar or even better services to international air travelers from Nigeria.

“The ball is in the court of Nigerians seeking to travel to make wise choice not to allow these foreign owned airlines to keep violating Nigerian laws and subjected them to horrendous and unfair trade practices”, HURIWA stated.

The Rights group said it has also authorized a letter of protest to the British government to object to the current unfair trade practices by the British Airlines (BA) and Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) which have created further unemployment for Nigerians.

HURIWA said: “We are worried at the disclosure by the Nigerian civil aviation authority that the passenger fuel surcharges (PFS) has “denied hardworking Nigerian travel agents from earning the appropriate commission on the real and true calculation of the fare that the airlines received. This anti-labor practice must be stopped”.    


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