Further Crash Of Naira Will Spell Doom For Airline Sub-Sector –Med-View CEO - INDEPENDENT
LAGOS – The Federal Government has been told to map out strategies that would prevent further crash of Naira against major currencies especially the dollar in order to save the nation’s airlines from total collapse.
This is as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) and other stakeholders in the sector accused the International Air Transport Association (IATA) of violating the country’s laws and regulations with its membership admittance policy.
Speaking yesterday with journalists in an interview at the 2019 Quarterly Business Meeting (BBM), organised by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) held in Lagos, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Med- View Airline lamented that the sudden crash of naira against major currencies in 2015 led to the deplorable state of the operating airlines in Nigeria.
He warned the government that any rise in the exchange rate again, would negatively affect the fortunes of the airline sub-sector in the country.
He stated that for instance the crash of naira led to the depletion in the fleet of Nigerian carriers, as maintenance cost increased, while spare parts became astronautically high.
He called on the government to introduce policies that would make naira stronger against foreign currencies especially the dollars, noting that with this, more organisations would spring up and provide jobs for the teeming population.
“As you are aware that before this administration came into being, 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 of 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”, he said
Besides, participants at the one day event have castigated IATA for allegedly working against the laws and regulations of the country through its practices.
Mr. Bernard Bankole, the President of NANTA 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, stressing that the duty of NCAA was being usurped by the international body.
He, however, called on NCAA to strengthen its regulations in order to weed out unregistered practitioners out of the system.
Besides, Grp. Capt. Edem Uyo Ita (rtd), Director of Air Transport Regulations, NCAA, in his speech noted that there are at least 600 travel agents on the portal of IATA, while only 200 of them were NANTA members and just 157 are on the register of NCAA.
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.”