High Airfares, Unremitted Revenue of Foreign Airlines Forced Sales to Drop by 40% in Q4 2023, Says NANTA

Chinedu Eze

High airfares occasioned by depreciating naira and closed lower inventories due to revenues of foreign airlines trapped in Nigeria, brought flight ticket sales down by 40 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2023.

This was disclosed by the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), which compared ticket sales at the period with the same period in 2022.

President of NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, explained that issues surrounding the trapped funds controversy, the rate of foreign exchange, scarcity of dollars as well as restrictions of the lower inventories to the travel agencies from Nigeria by airlines were factors that led to the drop in ticket sales for last quarter of 2023.

She further explained that although in the Nigerian international passenger traffic record, there was drop in ticket sales, but a lot of Nigerians travelled but they bought their tickets from outside Nigeria’s jurisdiction like the neighboring countries. 

Including Benin, Togo and Ghana, which must have recorded high increase in ticket sales enhanced by Nigerian travellers who shunned the high cost of ticket in their country to buy cheaper ones outside the shores of Nigeria.

“This was because while the lower inventory was closed for Nigerians, it was open for other countries and in foreign currency; so, Nigerians were buying the cheap tickets from other countries and travelling with the same airlines in Nigeria and elsewhere, thus diminishing ticket sales records in Nigeria and boosting that of neigbouring countries. 

“It was difficult for us to be able to get foreign exchange. The restrictions put by the airlines because of foreign exchange availability led to the drop in sales from Nigeria. Our members had to put up survival mechanism.

“Majority of the tickets we sold were out of Nigeria. Those sales were not attributed to the Nigerian market. If we are going to access the Ghana market or any West African country market, they would see an unusual growth, while it is a downward trend for the Nigerian market. This is because the airlines closed the lower inventories while the same lower inventories were open in other markets.

“So, what we did as travel agencies was to move our sales to other markets. Interestingly, the travel is still from Nigeria. Passengers still travel from Lagos to London but the tickets were bought in Ghana. So, the revenue is going to be attributed to Ghana and not to us,” Akporiaye explained.

Akporiaye, who made this known during a pre-48th Annual General Meeting (AGM) media conference in Lagos yesterday, also spoke about the planned event, saying the AGM is scheduled to hold between April 23 and 27, 2024, in Lagos with the theme: ‘Unlocking Africa’s Economic Potential: Travel and Tourism as Catalyst for intra Africa Business Investment and Trade’.

She said the last four years of her leadership as NANTA president had been challenging, especially with trapped funds of foreign airlines in the country, restrictions of the lower inventories to the travel agencies from Nigeria by airlines and the unstable foreign exchange, which stopped some passengers from flying through the nation’s airports.

Akporiaye said during her tenure, recognised NANTA members by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) rose to 1,500 and 2,000 respectively.

She recalled that when she assumed office in 2020, NCAA had only 300 travel agencies in its book, but the figure increased tremendously due to enhanced relationship, unification and advocacy.

On the forthcoming AGM, Akporiaye stated that Mr. Humphery Geiseb, the High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria would be the keynote speaker and special guest.

Geiseb would speak on ‘Destination Africa: Exploring Technology and Innovation Driven Tourism, A Call to Action for Professionals in Travel and Tourism’.

Also, Festus Keyamo and Lola Ace-John, the Ministers of Aviation and Aerospace Development, and Tourism respectively, are some of the special guests of the day and would deliver goodwill messages at the AGM.

Also, the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Dr. Allen Onyema, would speak on ‘Collaborative Strategies for Aviation Stakeholders and Professionals within ‘SAATM Policy and Economic Framework’, while Ikechi Uko, founder of Akwaaba Travel Market, would speak on ‘Identifying business, trade, and investment prospects in emerging Africa travel and tourism markets’.

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