The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has criticised Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) for forcing Nigerian passengers bound for South Africa to pay a 'deportation fee'.

General Manager of Public Relations for the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said that the authority had cautioned the Ethiopian carrier to stop the collection of a fee of USD75 from passengers before allowing them to board flights from Lagos to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo via Addis Ababa. The fee goes up to USD150 for layovers of greater than 24 hours. It is intended to cover the potential cost of deportation, following reports that the South African government had deported 187 Nigerians this year so far.

Adurogboye said the fee was against Nigerian regulations, as it had not been approved.

However, a spokesperson for Ethiopian Airlines, Ikechi Uko, has denied that the fee is unauthorised, reports Nigerian news site The Guardian.

"They were asked to deposit the mentioned amount to cover their incidental expenses, in case they are denied entry," said Uko. "This amount has always been refunded to the passengers when they have been allowed entry into South Africa."

The NCAA finds Ethiopian Airlines' response unacceptable, and has ordered it to stop collecting the fee immediately, adding that the airline is still able to apply to the NCAA for approval for the fee.