Operators in the aviation industry have urged the Federal Government to map out strategies that would prevent further crash of the naira against other foreign currencies, especially the US dollar in order to save indigenous carriers from collapse.
According to the operators, since 2015 indigenous operators have been hard hit by increase in exchange rate, which has had negative effects on their business.
Speaking last week at the 2019 Quarterly Business Breakfast Meeting (BBM), organised by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Med-View Airline, Muneer Bankole, said the sudden crash of naira against major currencies in 2015 led to the deplorable state of the operating airlines in Nigeria.
He cautioned that further increase in the exchange rate would negatively affect the fortunes of the airline sub-sector.
He said the crash of the naira led to the depletion in the fleet of Nigerian carriers, as maintenance cost increased, while spare parts became astronautically high.
Bankole called on the government to introduce policies that would make the naira stronger against foreign currencies especially the dollar, noting that with this, more organisations would spring up and provide jobs for the teeming population.
He said: “As you are aware that before this administration came on board, naira was N150 to a dollar and that was the target of everything we were doing, including leasing of aircraft and others. But, suddenly, it went to N500 and more. Then, a lot of challenges came in and you still have to pay your money back in the same value of the currency in which you took before.
“We are praying now that the exchange rate should go down and not increase as predicted by some people. This will create better life for Nigerians. What government should do today is to bring it back to the minimal level by which we can grow our economy. It should go back to N250 or maximum N280. This can be done gradually,” Bankole said.
Operators at the forum castigated the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for allegedly working against the laws and regulations of the country through its practices.
President , National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA), Bernard Bankole, in his presentation, accused IATA of absorbing some unregistered travel agencies into its platforms, thereby killing the sub-sector in Nigeria.
According to him, IATA absorbed some of the travel agents without recourse to the regulatory body in the industry. He stressed that the duty of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) was being usurped by the international body.
He, however, called on NCAA to strengthen its regulations in order to weed out unregistered practitioners in the system.
In his presentation, Director of Air Transport Regulations, NCAA, Group Captain Edem Uyo Ita, said there are at least 600 travel agents on the portal of IATA. While only 200 of them were NANTA members, just 157 of them are on NCAA’s register.
He insisted that IATA was violating the country’s law through its conduct, noting that the regulatory body could not regulate an agency, which doesn’t register with it.
Ita, however, admitted that the NCAA regulations needed to be tightened in order to plug all the loopholes in the system, especially among the travel agents in the country.
“We agree that we are poor with our regulations, but we have to take up IATA too for violating Nigeria law and NCAA regulations. IATA doesn’t consult with NCAA when coming up with charges or new regulations for the travel agencies.
“Yes, NCAA has not been forthcoming in its regulations because people don’t report things to us. Before IATA can admit anyone into its platform, it should first of all ask them to show proof or registration with NCAA.”
by kelvin Osa Okunbor