The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) on Thursday said the continued increment in the price of local and international airfares was unacceptable to Nigerians and the trade association.

Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, NANTA’s National President, during a media briefing in Lagos, urged the Federal Government to engage necessary stakeholders in the aviation industry on the development.

According to her, the increment is hostile to the survival of the Nigerian aviation downstream sector.

Akporiaye said It was disheartening that Nigerians had to buy tickets to the tune of N3million and be charged as high as N1million to change travel dates, even on tickets bought before the problem began.

“This is unacceptable, exploitative, and hostile to the survival of Nigerian aviation downstream sector.

” We call for sanity and return to the best inventory practices and deployment.

” We urge the government, as a matter of urgency, to open further windows of engagement by calling for a meeting with all parties involved,” she said.

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Akporiaye said such parties include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Minister of Aviation, Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, the International Air Transport Association, and NANTA.

“We appreciate the government for the release of some funds for the aviation industry and we hope this problem will be attended to promptly,” she said.

Akporiaye said the nation was going through one of the most difficult times in its travel economy.

She said there were issues of foreign exchange scarcity, unbelievable local and international travel fare increasement, visa restrictions, and threats of deportation at the slightest whims of some foreign countries.

The NANTA president said that businesses must be considered, as they were on the verge of total collapse and staff in the industry might be forced into the streets.

She advised the foreign airlines to rethink, knowing well that Nigeria remained a high net worth destination for them to do business.

” We request that the foreign airlines pause and have a rethink on this that we find exploitative.

” They are advised to restore inventories across the board and think of the good days when they flew in and out of Nigeria, enjoying the best patronage from us and the Nigerian traveling public.”

She said the delay in the repatriation of funds from foreign airlines in the country

assumed an embarrassing scenario when IATA Nigeria was a debt-bearing nation.

According to her, NANTA embarked on empathy visits to all the foreign airlines to share in their pains.

She said NANTA rubbed minds with the airlines on engaging the government through the Ministry of Aviation and the Central Bank of Nigeria to readily find solutions to payment and release of the trapped funds.

She noted that in the course of these strangulating circumstances, the airlines withdrew lower inventories across the board, selling at the highest possible openings as a way to cushion their funds being trapped.

” Amidst the challenging exorbitant option for our clients and other traveling publics, not excluding the threat to job losses and closure of shops by most of our members, we held on to optimism that our government will respond.

” Just recently, the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria

released about 265 million dollars to service these trapped funds and to which IATA hailed Nigeria for taking strategic measures to end the problem.

” Sadly, that gesture resulted in foreign airlines visiting the Nigerian traveling public with the most exploitative response in the name of protecting their business.

” 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.

” This problem must be resolved promptly,” she said.

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