By Jimoh Babatunde
Plans by the Federal Government toÂ Â buy tickets directly from the airlines from January might lead to the loss ofÂ more thanÂ 60,000 jobs.
Members of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA) said their trade is being threatened by the directives from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation that the government in a bidÂ to curb corruption in travels will henceforth be dealing with foreign airlines in the purchase of tickets for civil servants.
Over N560million worth of tickets will be boughtÂ directly from selected foreign airlines a policyÂ which run against industry practice worldwide.
Speaking with journalists Tuesday, Mr. Dayo Adeola, the National President ofÂ the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA ), said there are more than 600 travel agents in Nigeria withÂ about 500 of them IATA members.
He explained that most of their members have invested heavily in the BSP system which is operational in other parts of the world.
â€œBSP is a system designed to facilitate and simplify the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA Accredited Passenger Sales Agents, as well as improve financial control and cash flow for BSP Airlines.â€
Adeola noted that if they have followed the rules as stated by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and have been able to regularize the travel trade in the country, there is no reason why the Federal Government should not deal with travel agents as the downstream sector of the aviation industry.
Adeola said with the way the BSP is run in other parts of the world, once BSP is operational in any country, the airlines do not operate sales offices to compete with travel agents.
He wonders why the Head of Service who is billed to retire next year will now choose four foreign airlines to be dealing with.
The National President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) disclosed that the travel agencies had employ more staff, invested money in training, invested money in technology and they contribute to the development of the countryâ€™s GDP, while the foreign airlines selected by the Head of ServiceÂ do not generate employment as they often come into the country with their staff.
â€œThe policy the Head of Service is introducing is going to breed corruption instead of curbing it as the foreign airlines do not contribute to the development of the countryâ€™s economy. They do not pay tax, they do not employ the number of Nigerians our members employ, our members employ more than 60,000 Nigerians who pay taxes.â€
The National President ofÂ the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA ) said the Federal Government by that singular action is making nonsense of theirÂ fight over the years that the foreign airlines should close sales offices nation wide so as to allow the travel agents sell directly to the public as practiced everywhere.
Adeola wonders if major multi national companies in Nigeria who are more prudent deal with travel agents in their travel management why will the Federal Government of Nigeria now say that they will deal with airlines directly.
He advised that the Federal Government should get professional to handle their travel plans and advice them on the best way to do so than going after policy that will make Nigerians jobless.
â€œLet the airline face their core business and the travel agents do the sales and marketing. Wee pay tax, but the airline business is tax free. Apart from denying us employment, Government is losing money from taxes.