By Lawani Mikairu
Members of the National Association of Travel Agencies, NANTA , have called on the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to assist the Association with bailout fund to enable members not to default in the remittance of airlines tickets sold to the International Air Transport Association, IATA, who is the clearing House for airlines.
This is just as the earlier scheduled Annual General Meeting, AGM, of the association billed to take place in Kano had to be postponed because of the corona virus outbreak.
Making the demand at a press conference in Lagos, the outgoing NANTA President, Mr. Bankole Bernard said members were “not in a panic mood because of the pandemic” but want support from government as it had extended to the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SME’s to stay afloat in their business.
According to Bankole, members ,who are travel agents, whose job it is to sell tickets for the airlines both domestic and international will not be able to remit money to IATA as the monies for the sales of tickets were tied down with clients who were yet to pay because of the pandemic that has disrupted economic activities.
He also said IATA has started appealing to governments of the world to assist airlines and other stakeholders with bailouts in form of tax holidays, no charge for facility use, amongst others.
He further said while the world airlines have lost over $200billion to the pandemic, the travel agents in Nigeria have lost 50% of their sales for last year 2019 put at $1billion, adding that the 50% so far lost in naira is N180billon.
‘We were hoping that we will use this year to consolidate on the performance of what we did last year but with this, it can’t happen”
“From January till date, we have lost about 50% because in aviation business there is what you call forward booking which means that the ticket you want to use in April, May some people have purchased it, so at it is what happens to that money? They purchased it but they cannot fly so, all of them are putting in for refund.”
The NANTA President revealed that his members are losing money in terms of revenue saying that, “even we now are laying off our staff because we cannot cope with the pressure because cost is there, when the staff come to the office and they are not issuing tickets it means there is no need keeping them and there is no support coming from anywhere to argument your cost.”
“We need a bailout from the government it will enable us to access interest free loan to urgument our liabilities at this short period, once we can get interest free loan to support, it will go a long way to assist us. We are not asking anybody to come and dash us money, the circumstances has created a cash flow shortage whereby we cannot fulfill our obligation as it were so that is putting us under a lot of pressure because we pay every fortnight to the airlines”, he said.