Exorbitant air tickets: 3 million jobs threatened as travel agents shut down offices

September 9, 2022
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INDICATIONS have just emerged as to how some of the foreign airlines operating into Nigeria have continued to use the ongoing high season to exploit the Nigerian travelling public through exorbitant fares. 

Meanwhile, not all the foreign airlines have received their part of the $265 million of the $600 million trapped in the country that was recently released by the Federal Government

In a media briefing on Thursday, the leadership of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) alerted how despite the intervention of the government on the release of the money, the foreign carriers continued to exploit Nigerians. 

The travel agents at the press briefing raised the alarm of an imminent over three million jobs loss following the cut in travel by carriers and some of the airlines that have continued to threaten to leave Nigeria. 

According to the president of NANTA, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, “The gesture, instead of breathing a return to order, emboldened the foreign airlines to visit the Nigerian travelling public with most exploitative response in the name of protecting their business. 

“As usual with them, their response which we could describe as ‘high fare pandemic’ is solely targeted at Nigeria and Nigerians, and cannot be seen anywhere in Africa even in countries where they also have their funds being trapped.” 

She described the decision of the airlines to hike fares as unacceptable, exploitative and hostile to the survival of Nigeria’s aviation downstream sector to which the leadership of the agencies was calling for sanity. 

The NANTA president said, “It is sad that Nigerians have to buy tickets to the tune of three to four million naira and be charged as high as one million to change travel dates even on tickets bought before this wahala began.” 

The NANTA president hinted of how members of the association have started shutting down some of their offices as many Nigerians could no longer afford to travel because of high fares charged following the closure of their low inventory fares. 

According to her, prior to the removal of the low inventory charges, a hitherto N300,000 fare has now skyrocketed to N1.5 million. 

“In between these strangulating circumstances, the airlines withdrew lower inventories across board, selling at the highest possible openings as a way to cushion their funds being trapped. 

“Nigerians have to buy tickets to the tune of three to four million naira and can be charged as high as one million naira to change travel dates even on tickets before this trouble began. 

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“We appreciate the response to the release of some funds. We urge government as a matter of urgency to open further windows of engagement and call for a meeting with all parties involved, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Minister of Aviation, Minister of Finance, Foreign Airlines, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA).” 

On the inability of some of the airlines to get their own part of the released funds, Akporiaye disclosed that many of the carriers were yet to get 50 per cent, adding that only 25 per cent of the entire sum had been released to the carrier with huge backlog, making it extremely impossible for them to open the lower fare inventories. 

She, however, absolved the airlines of complicity in the whole saga of high fares, admitting that Nigeria violated all known Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) which allows foreign carriers to quickly repatriate their funds out of the country as quickly as possible, stressing that the country does not have the moral right to blame the carriers for some of their actions.

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