• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Flights cancelled, ticket sales decline over Canada-Nigeria ban

Ontario Airport

Several airlines have cancelled flights from Canada and Nigeria following the decision of Canada to add Nigeria to its travel ban list.

In addition, travel agents operating in Nigeria may see an almost 20 percent decline in ticket sales as a result of the development.

A few hours after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC), confirmed the first three cases of Omicron variant in travellers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria, Canada on Wednesday added Nigeria to the ‘travel ban’ list.

“There will be massive flight delays because Canada is one of our top selling destinations. We will experience close to a 20 percent decline in sales as a result of the ban on the destination but we are hopeful that it will be a temporary restriction and it should not last more than two weeks.

“If it goes beyond that, many families will be frustrated. I hope other destinations do not copy what Canada is doing because if they do, we are doomed for it,” Bankole Bernard, former president, National Associations of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) told BusinessDay.

Bernard said many people had already bought tickets for Christmas and others were planning to buy tickets before the development.

“I thought Nigeria was supposed to have learnt its lessons by now. We are always reactive instead of being proactive,” he added.

Steve Iduh is the managing partner of A.D & Partners, a firm specialising in global citizenship and residency programmes told BusinessDay that if the ban on the Nigerian route causes the embassy to stop issuing visas to Canada, it means his firm will have to suspend citizenship programmes to Canada.

Iduh said the travel ban only affects passengers originating from Nigeria but it will not affect Nigerians travelling from other countries where the travel ban does not exist.

He however said he is hopeful that the ban may not take long as governments are working with their scientists to put things under control.

Read also: Omicron variant: Canada adds Nigeria to travel ban list

“I was planning to relocate to Canada with my family before the travel ban. This is so difficult to handle as we have sold almost everything in Nigeria as we prepared to relocate in two weeks’ time,” a traveller who craved anonymity told BuisnessDay.

BuisnessDay’s checks show that people are already cancelling their engagements and asking airlines for refunds on tickets bought.

Travel agents also told BusinessDay that the airlines have been cooperating and refunds are being made to travellers seamlessly.

Cecile Doumbe, managing director of CMD Tours told BusinessDay that the new COVID variant is already impacting her business as sales are low and hotels are not realising many requests.

“Sales were beginning to pick up during the end of 2020 to 2021 but now with the new variant, I am scared we are going back to lockdown because countries have started shutting down again. We are having a lot of cancellations.

“We are just hoping that the lockdown is for a short period and they would have time to sort out the issues at hand. It may not be that long. Right now, we can’t predict. I want to applaud the airlines because they are refunding people and it is encouraging,” Doumbe said.

Before now, Nigerians migrating to Canada have increased following the worsening economic hardship and impact of Covid-19.

Immigration experts have said the exodus of Nigerian immigrants to Canada is showing no signs of slowing down because of the current economic situation of the country.

Experts also say Canada offers high-quality education and the country is immigration friendly, thereby pushing several Nigerians seeking greener pastures to the country.

For the fifth year in a row, more Nigerians migrated to Canada than the year before as data published by the Canadian government shows the number of Nigerians issued permanent resident permits has tripled since 2015.

Its growth rate outstrips some of Canada’s biggest sources of immigrants over the last five years, including India, China and the Philippines.

The rise in Nigerian migrants heading to Canada defects the North American country’s push to expand its labour force and lower the average age of its workers as its population advances in years. In 2019, Canada welcomed 341,000 immigrants in total (about 10,000 more it targeted) as part of immigration policy to attract skilled workers.