The president of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies [NANTA], Bankole Bernard, has called for a state of emergency in the aviation sector.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting in Lagos on Friday 2nd September, Bernard said the issue in the aviation industry is becoming alarming as urgent steps needed to be taken to save the industry from total collapse.
He said what is happening in the industry has become an eyesore as there is the need for a state of emergency to salvage the industry from total collapse.
NANTA boss observed that before now, the foreign airlines were living the country starting with United Airline, Iberia and Emirates and British Airways reducing their capacity, but people said it does not matter, adding that now the domestic airlines are closing shops.
Bernard said it has become imperative for NANTA to speak on the state of the industry because the body is at liberty to speak without fear or favour.
He said during the time when most of the foreign airlines funds were trapped in Nigeria, NANTA cried out that if some of these airlines leave, the country may be at risk of losing 300, 000 jobs that even when the money was finalized released, the airlines have lost about 40 -50 of the value of their tickets.
He lamented that government policy in the industry is not favourable both to the domestic airline operators and foreign airlines.
In his words, “Nigerian airports are obsolete and have nothing to write home about, instead of genuine development; rather kiosks are springing up here and there at our airports where shopping malls are springing up in other serious airports.
Ghana has seen our inadequacies and has reduced their aviation fuel by 20 per cent in a bid to re-position Accra as a hub and are working to establish their national carrier, by so doing, it will be coming to Nigeria to take our passengers and take off from Accra.
Even some of the airlines now quarter their crew in Ghana. This will take money away from Nigeria’s economy to Ghana and this will force the travel agencies to start relocating to Ghana.
This is the reason why a state or emergency should be declared in the aviation industry or the industry will disappear completely”.
He said the government needs to come to the aid of the aviation industry to save it from total collapse as the Nigerian travelling public is suffering.
Bernard noted that the body has held meeting with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA] and other relevant agencies with a view of salvaging the situation.
He said though the government is still looking at generating revenue from tourism but that the country is still struggling to get 1 per cent of its Gross Domestic Tourism from tourism.
According to him, “tourism industry cannot grow without a perfect aviation industry.”
NANTA boss lamented the state of the Abuja run which he said is a major source of concern to the airlines as South Africa Airways Airline was badly affected by bad state of runway which left the aircraft grounded for days and the passengers were lodged at Sheraton Abuja and that cost the airline dearly.
He said NANTA cannot continue to keep quite in what is happening in the industry to stop it from total collapse.
Bernard stressed that there is nothing stopping the country from the using one of her local airlines as national carrier pending when government decides to form a national carrier.
He said up till now the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facilities are still lacking in the country, adding that other nations depend on aviation while Nigeria is struggling to make revenue in the industry.
Bernard noted that if Ghana succeeds in their plans of making Accra a hub in West Africa, airlines will be coming from Ghana to pick passengers and travel agents will start relocating to Ghana, stressing that this will creating wealth for Ghana and money that supposed to be spent in Nigeria will now be spent in Ghana.
NANATA president stated that this is already happening as some airlines are keeping their crew members in Accra.