Nigerians buy Delta Airline flight tickets in dollars

Joy Onuorah
Joy Onuorah

International carrier, Delta Airlines, has begun selling tickets to passengers in US dollars even as foreign airline funds continue to be trapped in Nigeria.

It was learned that this was done to prevent the country’s trapped funds from growing further.

Recall that the International Air Transport Association estimated that foreign airlines’ trapped funds in Nigeria will total $550 million by November 30, 2022.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has continued to frown on the sale of foreign currency air tickets to Nigerian travellers, claiming that the practise violates the country’s air travel policy.

More information on the development shows that Delta Air Lines, the sole US carrier flying into Nigeria from its base in Atlanta, Georgia, now sells air tickets in dollars, according to Nairametrics.

The airline’s Sales Director for Africa, the Middle East, and India, Mr Jummy Echelgruen, also confirmed this.

Echelgruen, on the other hand, insisted that the airline had violated no known Nigerian law or policy, noting that it was part of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement arrangements between the US and Nigeria.

Though it has not been confirmed whether any other airline, other than Delta, sells air tickets in dollars, it was learned that the American carrier has been selling tickets in dollars to air travellers for the past six months.

Echelgrue explained that the airline used the tactics to keep more funds from becoming trapped in Nigeria, which he described as “enough to worry Delta Air Lines.”

According to him, the BASA agreement signed by the US Government with Nigeria allowed it to sell air tickets in either dollars or naira, emphasising that the airline had not violated any known Nigerian law.

He emphasised that Delta Air Lines was not considering suspending flight services out of Nigeria due to trapped ticket sales funds, and that the airline was committed to serving Nigerian routes.

He said; “What we have done is that we are now connecting through the issuance of tickets in US dollars because that is the way that we can continue with our service uninterrupted. We are allowed to do that with the bilateral agreement between the US Government and the Nigerian Government and we are providing adequate availability to passengers from Nigeria to all over the world.

“With this, we have opened up more inventories allowing for passengers to travel with us, but they need to pay in dollars. We will continue to operate as normal and our load on our flight is still very good.

“There is no grey area and it is part of our agreement. The agreement says we can collect in either naira or US dollars. We now sell our seats in dollars and that is going to be the case until we can resolve this crisis, added”

He was, however, silent on the specific amount of funds Delta Air Lines trapped in Nigeria.

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