…Urges FG To Strategically Partner Local Airlines To Checkmate Activities Of Int’l Airlines
…Say Foreign Airlines Reaping Travellers Off
The President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agency(NANTA), Mrs. Susan Akporaiye said that members of the association sold tickets worth $1.5 billion in 2021 while a total of $500 million was trapped.
She added that the association lost between $450m -$500m revenue in 2021 due to decrease in the volume of tickets sold by travel agencies in the country.
The NANTA boss also disclosed that airfares on international routes have increased to about 400 per cent following the blockade mounted by foreign carriers operating in Nigeria on all low ticket inventories on their websites.
International airlines, she alleged have continuously sell the highest inventories, and that this has resulted in a situation where passengers can no longer buy low tickets affordable tickets in Nigeria.
What the international airlines are doing, she noted has compelled Nigerian passengers to do business with travel agents in Ghana and other African countries.
This is just as she urged the Federal Government to going into strategic partnership to with local airlines to explore more international routes to create competitive environment that discourages undue advantage and encourages the market forces to regulate the cost of air fares for Nigeria.
She said these at a world press conference on airlines trapped funds, unjustifiable profiteering by foreign carriers and the silence on aviation economy today in Lagos.
The NANTA President lamented that it is only in Nigeria that a traveler is made to pay over $2000 for an economy ticket and also change the date of the flight itinerary for whatever personal reasons with about N1.5m to 1.8 m.
She pointed out that all low-fare inventories of the airlines have been deliberately blocked to NANTA members and to this market.
She said that airlines, even after the various engagements with NANTA as partners did not take the relationship or business history with the association into consideration, rather have gone ahead to make the market not only extremely difficult for members and in effect expensive for travelers.
Akporiaye said that what this means is that Nigeria is at a disadvantage since the airlines seems to have mastered the art of exploiting the FOREX issue to their advantage, adding that travel agencies are now forced to fold, leave the country or try to use other neighboring countries to sell to their customers.
According to her, “Nigeria travel market continues to be at the losing end with the airlines being indifferent to the plight of travelers and as a body we are left with no option than to call on the government to be more strategic, deliberate and direct in resolving this multifaceted dilemma.”
She hinted that in the aviation downstream sector, businesses are currently folding up and more will follow suite and that this will add to the unemployment challenge that the Federal government is grappling with if urgent and precise actions are not taken to address this development before it is too late.
She said that during the 3rd quarter of 2022, NANTA hinted that the trapped funds of Airlines may be responsible for the reactions of few foreign airlines then, which made trading on their inventory difficult and unbearably expensive.
She added that the story has changed completely and that the reaction of airlines is grossly unfair to the Nigerian travelling public, as well to Nigeria as a nation.
“This of course gravely threatens our survival as travel practitioners in Nigeria. The suffocating profiteering practices by majority of the foreign airlines is unbelievable and un-explainable in a Nigeria Market that is ranked by many indices of IATA as one of the best in Africa and with the best post-COVID-19 recovery rates across Africa and Middle East, the Nigerian Market should be applauded, but the reverse is the case. For emphasis, being one of the biggest market for any airline that operates within it, we expect airlines to respect and appreciate the impact of the traffic our market offers and seek better ways to ensure there is mutual benefit in tandem with the current reality.
“The trade rules are obnoxious, not consistent with global best practices, and fares are unjustifiably high, all in reaction to trapped funds. We at this stage have reasons to believe there is more to it,” Akporaiye said.
Speaking further, she said, “Today, a willing prospective Nigerian traveler needs about N3,000,000.00 to purchase an economy ticket while date changes on some airlines go as high as between N1,500,000.00 to N1,800,000.00. This has crippled our businesses, drove our clients away, and made Nigerians to travel across our borders at huge security risk to connect cheaper flights.
In view of this, NANTA wants to know when the sharp practices by foreign airlines will this stop, and at what point will the Federal Government deploy its instruments of governance to call the sector to order? What is the cost of trapped funds to airlines? Do the costs equate to the extreme fare hikes that are exclusive to this Market? Will extreme fares of airlines and resultant increased revenue (at no additional cost) not place future compound burden on the Forex reserve of Government?
On the advice that the Federal Government should go into strategic partnership with local airlines to checkmate the activities of international airlines in the country, the NANTA boss, said that as a body, the association would gladly work with the committee constituted to fine tune how this will operate as NANTA give its on-field experience to enable Nigeria gain the best out of it.
In her words, “This we will commit to if the foreign airlines insist on getting us out of business. We will gladly engage with government and other stakeholders as to know how to birth this while ensuring foreign airlines get their funds too. We, at NANTA, are pained, anxious, and worried; we cannot over-emphasize the consequences of job losses, the security risks to Nigerians travelling across borders to connect cheaper flights, and the shame of a parallel Dollar monetary policy in the Travel sector, against established national Naira monetary policy.