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Foreign Airlines are Exploiting Nigerians, NANTA Cries Out

National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies ( NANTA) has cried out to the government and foreign airlines to halt the trend of exploitations deployed by foreign airlines to charge high fares from Nigerians travellers . The body said ” Government should be Government” and act fast before NANTA members run out of business.

Addressing the media on Friday in Lagos, the National President of NANTA, Mrs Susan Akporiaye calls on the government to address the issue of high cost of fares which is as high as N3,000,000 and above, without paying taxes to Nigeria. Angered by their action, NANTA said its strongly requesting the airlines to open inventories to tally with what obtains in similar markets.

The NANTA President who referred to the actions of the airlines as ” suffocating profiteering” practice by majority of the foreign airlines is unbelievable and unexplainable in Nigeria market that is ranked by many indices of IATA as one of the best in Africa and with the best post- covid recovery rates across Africa and Middle East”.

Lamenting on the high fares NANTA said after the Speaker of the House of Representatives intervention, some airlines adjusted , with no significant impact but they later went back.

” Save for initial adjustments by one or two airlines , no significant impact was achieved as airlines continue with even higher fares as though they determine what happens in Nigeria. Today, a willing prospective Nigerian traveler need N3,000,000 to purchase an economy ticket , while date changes on some airlines go as high as between N1,500,000 to N1,800,000. This has crippled our business , drove our clients away and made Nigerians to travel across our borders at huge security risk to connect cheaper flights “.

The angered NANTA President in her statement posited these questions for government redress.” At what point will this stop? and at what point will government deploy it’s instruments of governance to call the sector to order?, Government Should be Government.”
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 Reserved of government?. Serious questions need to be asked around these actions , because the more airlines generate , the more they claim for repatriation and the pile of trapped funds grows”.

The Association said they have through official channels and private contacts reached out to the airlines, but they give reasons that do not convince them.

“We have, through official channels and private contacts, reached out to the airlines, but they give reasons that do not convince us. The fares and practices are strangulating, and our Nigerian regulation is not deployed. No power or authority in Nigeria is presently holding back the rampaging practices of airlines and we regret to say that NANTA members are not protected by government in this circumstance, neither is the Nigerian travelling public.

“We recommend that the government encourages and go into strategic partnership with indigenous airlines to explore more international routes so as to create the competitive environment that discourages undue advantage and encourages true market forces to
regulate the cost of air fares for Nigerians. We as a body would gladly work with the committee set up to finetune how this will operate as we give our on-field experience to enable our nation gain the best out of it. 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.

“We are also worried that none of our political parties have deemed it necessary to look at aviation economics, particularly and on its homogeneous socio-economic and security
opportunities and how it should be made more responsive and efficient to making Nigeria proud on the international aviation scene.

“On our part, we advise the incoming government to follow up keenly on Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and other extant aviation laws which will open our economy to serious local and foreign investors.

NANTA said a total of $16billon was generated by the Travels and tourism sector in 2021, representing 3.6% Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and providing 2.4 million jobs. It also said due to the foreign airlines exploitations, the sector has lost over 720,000 jobs and about $500m worth of revenue.

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