Foreign airlines, travel agencies earn N503b from tickets
Travel agencies, however, attributed the record sale to improved capacity by a couple of airlines as well as upward review of the official exchange rate for the aviation industry from N306 to N359.5 per dollar.
Besides, the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), in partnership with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), is to check the activities of unregistered travel agencies often accused of sharp practices in the downstream sector of the industry.
Under the new arrangement which takes off in March, illegal travel agencies, agents and ticket-selling banks are to face prosecution henceforth.
According to the figures made available by the NCAA, 7.7 million passengers flew the local routes, while international passengers accounted for 3.6 million, totalling 11.3 million travellers in the year under review.
Some of the top gainers are Ethiopian Airlines with 416,229 passengers; British Airways (275,223); Air France (254,290); Lufthansa, 245,151; Emirates, 242,033; Turkish, 219,551; Virgin Atlantic Airways, 185,994; KLM Airlines 185,999 and Qatar Airways got 170,159 figure.
The list also included Egypt Air (151,018 passengers); South African Airways, 140,273; Asky Airways, 119,154; African World Airlines, 112,542; Rwandair, 108,256 and Kenya Airways airlifted 93,307.
The rest were Delta Air Lines with a passenger turnover of 93,244; Royal Air Maroc, 88,015; Etihad 84,984 and Med-View’s 72,175 tally.
The president of NANTA, Bernard Bankole, also confirmed to reporters the huge ticket earnings at the weekend in Lagos.
The challenges of foreign exchange, stuck funds and the six-week closure of the Abuja airport last year notwithstanding, he noted that the airlines relatively picked up, adding that the current reality indicates that there are a lot of money in the travel business to attract banks, agents hence the need to curb faking in the industry.
He said: “A lot of them out there are not travel agencies or agents but simply there to swindle unsuspecting travellers. So, people get to pay for ticket only to find out at the airport that they have been scammed. And instead of calling names, they will label all travel agents as thieves. That is how bad it has been.
“We, at NANTA, will be most delighted to see the identification scheme come to reality when it’ is launched in March for registered operators only.”
This would not only change the perception of the public, but will also give a sense of belonging to the practitioners as true professionals that we are.”
Bankole revealed that scheme comes with strategic security features to check the shady activities of “fake and fly-by-night operators.”
The Guardian learnt that the 6000 travel agencies recognised by NANTA only constitute just 10 per cent of practicing agencies in the country.
The vice president of the association, Lola Adewole, noted that the first point of contact for foreigners coming into the country was the travel agents, hence the need to sanitise the sector.
She added that the NANTA Act was part of efforts by the current leadership to santise the industry.
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