Chinedu Eze

The president of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bernard Bankole has criticised the federal government’s retrogressive policies in the aviation industry.

Bankole observed that poor government policies are retarding the growth of the country’s aviation business and the opportunity to attract international investment.

Bankole noted that some of the foreign airlines are leaving as a result of these bad government policies, which failed to place the actual value of the Naira for a long time, leading to the trapping of about $600 million of international carriers before the devaluation of the currency that now left the airlines in a quandary.

“Bad government policies are frustrating our business. Even the new policies on foreign exchange came late when a lot of damages have been done. Even the new policies are not even clear. The airlines have now stopped selling cheaper fares to Nigerians and are now selling higher fares and is our people who are suffering the consequences,” he said.

According to him, the most painful aspect of it is that the federal government is still collecting their taxes in dollars instead of collecting them in naira, adding that these bad policies are killing the industry.

Bankole stressed the need for NANTA to engage the government more and also to understand the government and its policies better as well as to educate the masses on government policies concerning the aviation industry.

“Looking at the classification of air travel as luxury by the federal government, this is wrong because air travel is not luxury but just a safe means of travelling to save time. Most Nigerians who travel, travel for business and not for leisure.

“Such air travel that could be classified as luxury include those who own private jets. They are the category that should be classified as luxury,” he explained.

The NANTA boss maintained that even the domestic airlines that were supposed to take advantage of the prevailing situation in the country are not stepping up their games to grow their businesses by playing the roles of the international carriers.
He said government could not afford to neglect the aviation industry because it contributes significantly to the growth of the country’s GDP and advocated for flag carriers in the country and not necessarily national carrier, which he noted has been in the pipeline for a long time now.

Bankole also remarked that even the rate of travelling by Nigerians has reduced drastically and this has also affected NANTA business, leading to job and revenue losses by both the government and NANTA members.