By: Samson Echenim
…as Lagos international airport sees fewer travellers
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Travel agencies in Nigeria say they have lost over N180 billion following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA),an umbrella body of the travel agents operating in Nigeria, put the losses incurred by its members at N180 billion since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is as number of travellers at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport diminished as Nigeria bans travels to 15 countries.
However, NANTA has also called for a bailout for its members, in form of interest-free loan from banks to cushion the effect of COVID-19.
Bankole Bernard, national president of NANTA, said at the association’s world press conference on the impact of Covid-19 on travel business and NANTA annual general meeting coming up in Kano, that last year travel agencies sold tickets worth $1 billion (about N360 million )
He added that by now travel agencies should making the Easter sales but that cannot happen as a result of the COVID-19.
“We appeal to banks through the Central Bank (CBN) for interest free loan to ameliorate the effect of Coronavirus on their business. We would also like to appeal IATA to relax travel agencies payment plans by extending the payment period, as members would not want the stigma of default to be on them,” Bernard said.
This is coming as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), sought $200 billion support for airlines. IATA had put global airline losses at $113 billion before the US and other countries began to effect travel bans against multiple countries.
The global airlines body is now seeking aid from governments for airlines across the world.
“In these extraordinary times, we have also asked governments to take some extraordinary measures.One that you will have heard about is a waiver on slots—particularly the 80-20 use-it-or-lose-it rule. Demand patterns have shifted radically. And airlines should not be hindered by the 80-20 rule when adjusting their operations to the reality of today’s market,” said Alexandre de Junia, president of IATA.
IATA is also asking governments to recognise this as an extraordinary situation with respect to passenger rights regulations—particularly EU 261.
“Cancelling flights is the reality of today—often times because of government restrictions. We continue to ask governments to understand that this is totally beyond the control of the airlines,” de Junia told a press conference on Thursday.
IATA also asked governments to reduce charges that airlines face at airports.
“These are all helpful. But against the scale of today’s crisis, these are not going to save the airline industry from financial peril,” he noted.
Meanwhile, at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos on Friday, very few travellers were seen processing their tickets and boarding passes. People kept distances from each other. Travellers declined chat with our correspondent, but an airport official who offered to speak with business a.m on anonymity said there had been flights to only two countries on Friday.
“As you know, many of the airlines are no longer coming. Since morning there had been only two flights to Dubai,” he said.