Stakeholders in the tourism industry have decried the recent hike in airfares, urging airline operators to urgently review it and save the industry from imminent collapse.
They made the plea on Thursday at a symposium organised by the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Western Zone, held in Ibadan.
In his remarks, NANTA National President, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, said that the industry was on the verge of collapsing due to hike in the prices of virtually everything in the country.
“So, there is an urgent need for the Federal Government and all stakeholders to rise up and do something in addressing this issue.
“I have laid off most of my staff because I can’t pay them; some now come to the office on schedules because they can’t afford transport fare.
“We are all confused now in the industry, because the problems are too much for us to manage,” she said.
Also, the NANTA National Treasurer, Dr Tokunbo Dagunduro, said that tourism should be given top priority by the government in the annual budgetary allocation to the industry.
He called on the stakeholders to work as a team toward achieving the desired results.
Contributing, Mr Babatunde Adesokan, NANTA Vice President, Western Zone, expressed dismay over a situation whereby one way ticket to UK now cost about N1.4 million.
Adesokan called for a proactive response to remain in business.
“There is need to engage our industry leaders and partners alike to know what is next in line of our trade.
“Our trade partners in the airlines should kindly tarry a bit and consider the old good times that they found it rosy in our country by repatriating their funds without any hassle,” he said.
Also, Rotimi Aiyetan, the South-West Zonal Coordinator, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), called on the government to look into infrastructure development, airport runway, airlines and the business models they were using.
“Are they using the right business models? Are they getting the right funding? How easy do they have access to foreign exchange?
“How are we sure they have the infrastructure needed to remain profitable and sustainable?
“We have to look at leisure and tourism. If people do not move, there is no tourism and this will affect air traffic.
“We have to stimulate leisure travel and make it affordable to Nigerians,” Aiyetan said.
He said that there was need to develop domestic tourism and economy so as to get disposable income for people to buy tickets.
According to him, the tax on airlines needed review, adding that you could not tax airlines to fund government agencies and expect a robust industry.
“Our government agencies should get more professionals, less support staff and less overbloated and less expensive to run,” Aiyetan said.
WIA honours Dana Air as Airline wins CSR award
Dana Air has been honoured by the Women in Aviation for celebrating 15 years in Nigeria’s Aviation Industry at the Annual Conference of Women in Aviation Nigeria Chapter held recently in Kano.
According to the President of Women in Aviation Nigeria, Rejoice Ndudinachi, “this year’s conference is themed: Connect, Engage, Inspire, and the highlight is presentation of awards to persons and organisations who have distinguished themselves in the society.”
Similarly, Dana Air has bagged the Corporate Social Responsibility airline of the year Award 2023 at the City Business News Summit 2023, held recently in Lagos at Oriental Hotels.
Speaking on the double honours, Dana Air’s Chief Operating Officer, Ememobong Ettete, said, “Dana Air is committed to the theme of this year’s WIA conference as always and this is a well-deserved recognition for us and it just goes to show that people see and appreciate the little things we do to support not just our dear country but communities, youths, the women in aviation, our industry and even the entertainment industry.”
“As a responsible corporate citizen, we remain committed to supporting worthy causes across the country and contributing to her growth and development as we have no other option than to build our country and see it achieve its full potential,” he added.
Having flown over 36 million passengers in the last 15 years of its operation, Dana Air is one of Nigeria’s leading airlines with a mixed fleet of Boeing aircraft and daily flights to major cities in Nigeria.
NAHCON urges FAAN to provide facilities at departure centres
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), has urged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to provide navigation equipment and facilities at Hajj departure centres across the country.
Deputy Director, Information and Publication, NAHCON, Malam Mousa Ubandawaki, in a statement, said the acting Chairman of the commission, Jalal Arabi, made the call when he hosted members of FAAN’s Hajj Committee.
Arabi noted that the provision of necessary navigational equipment and facilities at the hajj departure centres would facilitate a seamless transportation of the 2023 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
“You are a formidable partner in the Hajj operation. Though, there are certain considerations put in place during hajj transportation, we expect you to tell us the state of the various airports used for transportation of pilgrims.
“The committee should be time conscious as they would have limited time to carry out their assignments, going by the time line set by Saudi Arabia for all nations to conclude all Hajj arrangements.”
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Director, Airport Operations, Capt. Mukhtar Muye, said that FAAN commenced preparations for the 2024 hajj about two months ago.
This, according to him, is with a view to achieving a hitch-free Hajj operation.
He assured that the exercise would be completed before the commencement of the transportation of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from the 16 departure airports across the country.
Muye, however, urged the commission to persuade the Tour Operators companies to comply with the arrangements of transportation of their pilgrims through the international Terminals instead of the Hajj Terminal.
According to him, that can deny the authorities valuable revenue that they are supposed to generate for the purpose of providing the necessary infrastructural facilities at the airports.
He assured the commission of the authority’s commitments to discharge its duties diligently so that Nigerian Pilgrims could experience a hitch-free exercise.
Aviation yet to fully recover from pandemic losses – IATA
The International Air Transport Association said the aviation sector is still recovering from losses of the pandemic which crippled flight operations globally.
Africa lost an estimated $7.7 billion in the aviation sector in 2020 as restrictions were put in place by governments to combat the spread of COVID-19, leading to a drop in traffic.
IATA estimated that Nigeria lost about N21 billion monthly during the outbreak. Analysts said it would take until 2024 for the situation in the aviation sector to improve and return to 2019 levels.
AITA’s Regional Vice-President, Africa and Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi, at the 55th AFRAA Annual General Meeting, warned governments to desist from seeing the aviation sector as cash cows if the sector must harness its growth potential.
He said, “Africa’s aviation industry is still recovering from significant losses due to the pandemic.
“To make up for this shortfall, governments should avoid imposing higher fees, levies, carbon taxes or new taxes on air transport, trade or tourism.
“These measures would only make air travel more expensive and less accessible in Africa, where the average airfare is already 30 percent higher than the industry average and the jet fuel cost is 10-20 per cent higher than the global average.”
While the sector continues to recover, higher costs will discourage customers who are sensitive to prices, which will impact revenue,” he said.
“They would also hamper economic development and limit the opportunities for job creation and income generation. High cost leads to high price, which reduces demand and growth in a price-elastic market, and ultimately affects connectivity negatively.”
He advised the governments to follow the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s policies on charges and infrastructure and consult with airlines and industry to ensure a fair and cost-effective operational environment that benefits a more connected continent.
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