President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, says that the organisation is beginning to record losses with the departure of foreign airlines, adding that there is fear that more airlines might quit flying the Nigerian routes. Speaking in Lagos, Bernard said the new forex policy and economic crunch are having enormous negative effects on travel agencies.
The travel agencies sold about $1.4 billion worth of air tickets in 2015. Amid the low patronage, Bernard said some of his members were beginning to consider relocating to Ghana, where the policies are consistent.
Policy inconsistency and naira devaluation are said to account for investors shying away from investing in Nigeria especially the unsavory experience foreign airlines are going through in the country.
No fewer than 14 airlines have withdrawn their services from the country due to low patronage on account of the economic recession. The airlines include Iberia, United Airlines and Air Gambia, which were among the 50 that operated the Nigerian routes some months ago.
Last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced a fiscal policy restricting access to foreign exchange and funds transfer out of the country. International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that no less than $600 million belonging to foreign airlines is stuck in Nigeria. The association appealed to government to ensure the immediate release of such funds.
Aviation sources estimate that Delta and United Airlines have up to $180 million trapped in the Nigerian economy, while Air France-KLM is estimated to have more than $150 million.