Travel agencies under the auspices of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) have called on airline operators in Nigeria to reduce the prices of flight tickets following the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announcement that it has cleared all “verified” foreign exchange backlogs of these foreign airlines.
NANTA, in a press statement made available to BusinessDay on Wednesday, announced its position, warning these airlines, in particular the foreign airlines, to quickly adjust their flight ticket prices or face intense pressure if they fail to do so.
The pressure group had welcomed CBN’s strategic intervention, emphasising the role it played alongside the International Air Traffic Agencies (IATA) to release trapped funds valued at over $700 million, the highest amongst the 130 IATA member countries.
Nigeria, being one of the most expensive outbound countries for flight ticket prices, had the trapped funds as one of the major motivating factors behind its decision, says IATA and numerous foreign airlines.
Due to the trapped funds situation, NANTA had accepted the exorbitant flight ticket prices in the past as a justifiable reason but insisted that it should be immediately reversed now that the CBN had fulfilled its pledge.
It stated that “NANTA, therefore, holds a firm position that, with ROE at NGN 1421 and backlogs cleared by CBN, airlines have no further reason and justification to restrict inventory in the Nigerian market. We at NANTA view further restrictions of lower inventory as excessive, profiteering, and unsupportive of the Nigerian Government/Market in the face of our economic challenges.
“NANTA has made a request to IATA, to prevail on all airlines operating in the Nigerian market to release all lower inventories latest by Friday 2nd February 2024. Reminding IATA that NANTA was cooperative and collaborative when the request was made by IATA.
“Anything short of full release of inventory by all airlines is now unexplainable, leading NANTA to view that there is more to the actions of airlines in our market.
“The National President made NANTA’s position clear to IATA that if full inventories are not released by all airlines by Friday, 2nd February 2024, NANTA would address a World Press Conference next week, on the unexplainable, unreasonable, unjustifiable, and unsupportive actions of airlines in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, IATA has welcomed CBN’s announcement of its release of an additional $64.44 million in blocked airline funds, but admitted that “it was consulting with our airline members to verify the release of their revenues, noting that about $700 million remains trapped in the country.”