Hikes in Airfares: NANTA urges government to partner with more indigenous airlines to explore more international routes
Members of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) have urged the Federal Government on the need to go into strategic partnership with indigenous airlines as this would encourage market forces to regulate the price of airfares for Nigerians.
President of the Association, Susan Akporiaye speaking at a Press briefing in Lagos on Friday, explained that
President of the Association, Susan Akporiaye speaking at a Press briefing in Lagos on Friday, explained that the fact that Nigerians now pay as high as $2,000 dollars for an economy class ticket and also change their travel date for as much as N1.5 to N1.8 Million Naira is a sad development and unfair to the Nigerian Travel sector.
Akporiaye explained that initially, they had believed that trapped funds of Airlines may have been responsible for the situation and that however, Nigeria is now at a disadvantage as Agencies are now forced to fold, leave the country or try to use other neighboring countries to sell to their customers since the airlines seem to have taken advantage of the situation by exploiting the FOREX issue.
‘’The suffocating profiteering practices by majority of the foreign Airlines is unbelievable and unexplainable 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 recovery rates across Africa and Middle East, the Nigerian Market should be applauded, but the reverse is the case.
‘’To put this in perspective, all low-fare inventories of the Airlines have been deliberately blocked to our members and to this market. Airlines, even after various engagements as partners, have seem not to take such relationship or business history with NANTA into consideration, rather have gone ahead to make the market extremely difficult for members and in effect expensive for travelers. This now means, Nigeria is at a disadvantage since the airlines seems to have mastered the art of exploiting the FOREX issue to their advantage. Agencies are now forced to fold, leave the country or try to use other neighboring countries to sell to their customers.’’
In an interview with AV1 News, Mrs. Akporiaye explained that initially, they had believed that that trapped funds of Airlines may have been responsible for the reactions of few foreign Airlines then, which made trading on their inventory difficult and unbearably expensive.
According to her, the Foreign Airlines have not disclosed the actual cost of what they call trapped funds. As they have not been able to justify whether such cost equate the extreme fare hikes that appear to be are exclusive to the Nigerian 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? 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.
She also expressed concern that with the 2023 elections just around the corner, none of the political parties so far have indicated interest in the future of the Nigerian Travel Industry.
‘’We are also worried that none of our political parties have deemed it necessary to look at aviation economics, particularly and on its homogeneous socioeconomic 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 new 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. We also remain available for consultation. 4 We thank you all for coming and are willing to take all your questions.’’
‘Government should be government’
Akporiaye emphasized that Nigerian Travel trade professionals are at crossroads with no help from either the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria or the Ministry of Aviation to address the challenges with a view to finding lasting solutions to what can best be described as a crisis in itself.
”We hold the stand that Government still retains the responsibility to commit to agreements with Airlines to protect the sector and call Airlines to order when there are obvious excesses from the airlines that puts the entire industry in jeopardy; because the current fare structure and practices are exploitative to the Nigerian Traveler as well as Agencies who provides a reasonable number of jobs for our great nation. This heavy cost to the Nigerian traveler is unnecessary! We strongly request, the airlines to open inventories to tally with what obtains in similar markets.
She further reaffirmed that the Association is open to further consultations as Agencies in the Country have lost well over $450 Million US dollars between 2021 and 2022.
‘’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.