The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it would amount to exploitation if airlines suspend flights after receiving payment for tickets.
On Friday, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) announced its decision to suspend services from May 9 due to the high cost of aviation fuel.
In a statement on Saturday, Babatunde Irukera, FCCPC chief executive officer, urged the AON to consider the effect of shutting down flight services, adding that customers feedback shows that tickets are still being sold after the announcement to shut down operations.
“The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has become aware of a public service announcement by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) regarding the impracticality of continuing operations beyond Monday, May 9th, 2022 under the prevailing circumstances of the high and rising cost of jet fuel,” the statement reads.
“The Commission encourages and implores 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 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 costs of operations and foreign exchange.
“The Commission is, however, concerned with rising consumer feedback 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 heinous 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 5.123 of the FCCPA to represent a service that will be delivered on a certain date when the provider knows the same is false or improbable.
“The Commission is optimistic that airline operators will not deliberately sell tickets for flights they do not intend to operate, and is as such hopeful that a solution short of a shutdown will emerge accordingly.
“The Commission continues to monitor this sensitive and evolving situation and remains committed to supporting engagements to provide solutions and stability.”
Irukera added that efforts are being made to engage stakeholders in the petroleum industry to help address the challenges being faced.
“Indeed, the Commission has been in discussion with the leadership of major fuel marketers to understand the global supply challenges and possible steps to ameliorate same,” he said.
“Accordingly, the Commission strongly advocates engagement among all stakeholders across the 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 a war, sanctions associated with the war, and a fragile ongoing post-pandemic recovery in aviation.”