L-R: Hezekiah Afolabi, Vice president western zone NANTA, Yinka Folami, VP Lagos, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, president NANTA and Daisy Olotu, Financial Secretary NANTA at the Association’s 2021 first quarter media briefing in Lagos on Tuesday, February 9th.
The National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, NANTA, has lamented the inability of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and its bank, the United Bank for Africa, UBA to make Foreign Exchange available to the body to enable it repatriate funds to the International Air Transport Association, IATA.
Speaking during its 2021 first quarter press briefing in Lagos on Tuesday, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, the president of. NANTA stated that out of $60.000 it applied through its bank for repatriation to IATA, UBA sometimes released a meagre $4000 and sometimes $2000 to them which is very ridiculous.
NANTA president commended IATA for supporting the recovery process of the travel industry, oxygenating the breath to its collective future survival.
Akporiaye also lauded IATA for making the travel process easier, given their members enough time to meet up with their financial obligations instead of yanking them off on its platform.
She said IATA has been lenient to their members in their payment process which has been threatened by the insufficient Foreign Exchange by the CBN .
She said the global travel restrictions with attendant Covid 19 protocols were realities that tasked the body to the end.
Akporiaye pointed out that the association engaged in training and retraining of their members knowing that it may not be business as usual once the pandemic regime is over.
In her words, “no doubt, our members were beginning to experience challenges, and with the initial lockdown, border and airspace closure and banning of travellers to some parts of the world, particularly targeting Nigerians, we know we had to think out of the box and give our members hope, opportunities and strength to remain focused”.
She stated further that the federal government through the ministry of aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, intervened to give NANTA hope and stabilise certain measures of policy matters which brought sanity to the rash of Covid 19 protocols targeted at Nigerian passengers.
She also appreciated the offer of government to provide the body with palliative, a process she said gladdens her heart that travel professionals represented by NANTA are veritable partners in national development.
“We must salute the courage and doggedness of Senator Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation on a lot of fronts in repositioning the industry and the travel trade sector. Mr Sirika is the true square peg in a square hole and NANTA salute this exceptional public officer”, she said.
On the NANTA palliative, she said the committee will come up with a sharing baseline for every financially up to date and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA registered members .
NANTA president observed that this the first time in the history of the body that the federal government openly identified with their pains dreams and aspirations.
She disclosed that some of their members are yet to send in their financial details for the disbursement of the palliative.
On recent suspension of Emirates and subsequent lifting of the suspension by the federal government over United Arab Emirates insistence on Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) Four hours from the time of flights departure, Akporiaye lauded the federal government on the measures taken which forced the airline to suspend the test.
Although she frowned at people presenting false PCR Test, but Akporiaye observed that Dubai can adopt the Canada style where any passenger that test positive on arrival will have to pay $2000 for their treatment.
She observed that the test is becoming too much as the PCR Test done 72 hours from the date of departure by passengers and the one done on arrival in Dubai is okay.
She noted that: “We are working round the clock to provide more services and opportunities for our members, particularly in reaching out to our various stakeholders to provide windows of opportunities and support to NANTA members at this critical times. We also like to urge our members to be patient and not cut corners to remain above the waters. In weeks to come, we have instructed our training committee to come out with training modules beneficial to our members as we take bold steps to engage alternate openings which can help us provide better services to Nigerian passengers and our members”.
NANTA president observed that Covid 19 vaccination will be a good way for the recovery of the travel industry, adding that lack of vaccination will affect the recovery process.
She gave the breakdown of the ticket sales by its members recorded in 2019 against 2020 when the Coronavirus set in.
She disclosed that the industry recorded $70.03million in ticket sales in January 2020 which is higher compared to $57.79million recorded in January 2019, while February 2020 recorded $59.16million against $51.52million in ticket sales and then decline in March with $23.26million compared to $80.55million in the same period in 2019, while April 2020 recorded -$1.38million against $92.50million in April 1999.