Travel agents, under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) have decried the present state of affairs in the aviation industry in respect of the rising air fares and trapped funds of foreign carriers, and called on the federal government to engage in dialogue with the operators to find lasting solutions to the issues before they degenerate further as the implications would be too dire for Nigerians and the economy, which is already bleeding.
Speaking at a press conference during the week, the President of the body, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, noted that rising airfares for international flights are becoming unbearable for the public, putting the cost of one-way airfare from N300,000 to N1.5 million on economy class, a situation which she said is further compounded by the non-release of the balance of trapped funds. She said the stakeholders meeting should involve the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministry of Finance, Minister of Aviation, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) foreign airlines and NANTA.
This, she noted would find lead to a lasting solution, warning that NANTA as a critical stakeholder should not be excluded from the meeting, as efforts made by NANTA to meet with the FG in the past were not fruitful. She stated that the unsettled fund is part of the reasons the foreign airlines have withdrawn lower inventories across board, selling at the highest possible openings as a way to cushion the effects of their trapped funds, while those who have not closed theirs are selling tickets and exploiting Nigerians with their exploitative fares. According to her, “The federal government has failed the foreign airlines. We have failed on BASA. All the airlines have a right to stop flying into Nigeria, but because we have a relationship with them they are still operating. Our minister is looking for airlines that are selling tickets in dollars to punish. I wish him luck.”