THE failure of the last government to resolve the controversial trapped funds of the foreign Airlines operating into Nigeria has continued to cause huge losses to Nigeria and the travelling agencies.
From the latest information gathered by the Nigerian Tribune majority of Nigerians have now shifted their patronage to Ghana through where they connect flights to other parts of the world.
The abandonment of Nigeria and its travel agencies has however become a gain for Ghana in view of the huge revenue that the Nigerian travellers now generate into the coffers of the West African country through the taxes and other levies they pay to the Ghanaian government and its travel agencies.
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Despite the small size of Ghana and its few traveling public, the country and its traveling agencies are smiling to the banks as the huge number of Nigerians help to build up the traffic of the fellow West African country.
The ongoing rush to Ghana by the Nigerian travellers has been traced to the removal of the lower inventory fares from Nigeria by the foreign carriers to protest their funds trapped in Nigeria, which according to the latest release by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has increased to $812.2 million, which has made Nigeria the highest indebted country globally.
The suspension of the lower inventory tickets from Nigeria which other smaller countries are catching on to downgrade the hitherto huge traffic available on the Nigerian route has been to the advantages of countries like Ghana and even Airlines like British Airways.
According to the latest information, the British Airways has capitalised on the influx of Nigerians travellers to Ghana to announce an increase the number of its flights between Accra/London route to enable it to accommodate the sudden surge in traffic on the route.
The additional flights, which would begin from October 29, 2023, the airline said would give Ghanaian trave¬lers more options of flight times and airports, with additional flights operating in London Gatwick.
Besides the additional flights, BA is already operating daily flights between Accra and London’s Heathrow Terminal 5.
Reacting to the development, the president of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye attributed the traffic increase in Ghana to the trapped funds of the foreign carriers in Nigeria, which she described as unfortunate.
While describing the situation as a wakeup call for the new government of President Bola Tinubu, Akporiaye lamented how the shift in patronage by Nigerians to Ghana is causing a huge loss to the government and the Nigerian the Nigerian travel agencies.
According to the NANTA President: “It’s just a very sad situation. That’s exactly what is happening, because of the trapped funds. Of cause, the traffic from Ghana would definitely increase because in Ghana, they still have all their cheaper inventories, they are selling all their lower classes. So it’s cheaper to travel from Ghana than from Nigeria. This is a wake up call for the Nigerian government. Honestly we are loosing a lot as a country, as an economy and even as travel agents we are loosing our clients, we are loosing our markets to smaller neighboring African countries.
“Now can you imagine the gain to Ghanaian economy. You know for BA to have extra flights there is going to be extra cost to it, landing costs, their local operators, their ground handling companies, their own version of catering services. It means more money for them, more jobs, more opportunities for them and of cause it makes their airport more busy, more taxes. You know for every ticket even if am the one issuing it for my client, because there is what we call collaboration, we have colleagues, we have partners all over the world. If I reach out to my colleague in Ghana to issue out ticket to me for my client in Nigeria, the Nigerian government doesn’t make money from that ticket, its the Ghanaian government that makes money from it.
“This is what is happening and we, travel agencies in Nigeria we have to find a way to survive, we cannot fold our hands to the insensitivity of our government to resolve this issue and die in silence, so we have to find a way of surviving. Its really very tough for us and my members would have to get the means to be able to meet the demands of their clients if it has to be for us working with our counterparts in other parts of the world to service our clients we would do it, thats why we are agents and this is the loss of Nigerian government and its so painful.
“Ghanaians don’t travel, they don’t have the money to travel, they don’t have the traffic, we are the one giving them the traffic, so you can imagine how busy the Ghana airport is now for them to increase the light of BA from Ghana, that will be more money BA is paying to Ghanaian government in terms of parking, in terms of allocation, so many things involved so that is the sad reality. We keep talking about these things, we keep making noise about it and the government just turned the deaf ears, Hadi Sirika just pretended as if he doesn’t know what is going on. For a seasoned aviator and a pilot of so many years, he understands these things very well, but why he chose to just turn the other side and allow this thing to get to this level beats my imagination. I really don’t know what our government is thinking, we are losing a lot of revenue. Revenue for the government, revenue for Nigerians. So, it’s unfortunately the sad reality, now there is so much capacity coming from Ghana and BA can’t keep up so they have to increase their frequency. But be that as it may, it’s a temporary increase in the market, there is what is called false market increase and a real market increase, that increase in Ghana market is not a real market increase but an increase due to the fact that we are having a challenge in Nigeria. Once we resolve our challenges here in Nigeria, you will see they will have to go back to their usual number of flights, they will not be able to keep up with the extra flights that they have. For now,it’s good for them like the saying ‘one man’s loss is another man’s gain’, so let the Nigerian government wake up to what we are losing. This is unfair for a county like Nigeria with number of people we have and you know Nigeria is business destination, so with the number of people coming in and out having to access Nigeria through other countries is actually a big shame on us. The onus now lies on the new government to as soon as possible put an end to this nuisance and nonsense that is going on with the Airlines trapped funds.
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