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Travel agencies laud forex concession grant to airlines


President of NANTA, Bernard Bankole. PHOTO:

President of NANTA, Bernard Bankole. PHOTO:

Travel agencies in the country have hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to grant a concession to foreign airlines on access to foreign exchange.

The agencies, under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA), commended the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for giving attention to the persistent advocacy of the association to the effect that capital controls placed by government were stifling development in the aviation sector, making business difficult for airlines and reducing the capacity of Nigerians to embark on their legitimate travel business due to escalating air fares.

President of the association, Bankole Bernard, commend the Minister of Aviation and authorities at the CBN for the forex concession that were recently granted to airlines.

Bankole said: “We are happy that our advocacy on the importance of government implementing favourable policies in the aviation sector is beginning to pay off.”

It would be recalled that the CBN granted airline operators in the country a special foreign exchange (Forex) concession regime to enable clearance of outstanding at inter-bank market rate.
The CBN, in a memo, listed airline operators along with sectors that deal with raw materials and machineries for manufacturing companies and agricultural chemicals as some of the beneficiaries of the intervention.

The NANTA president noted that the decision was bound to strengthen the confidence level of airlines in Nigeria’s economy and reverse all the drawbacks that the industry has suffered in the past couple of months.

He added that the concession would give room for airlines to clear the backlog of unremitted funds in various banks in Nigeria, which would invariably create opportunities for Nigerians to enjoy more affordable travel since “travel agencies will no longer be compelled to sell in dollars as we have seen in the earlier part of the year. This would invariably reduce the cost of tickets.”

Publicity Secretary of NANTA, Olumuyiwa Adebayo, however advised that government should go further to take a few more steps that would ease doing business in the sector and give investors more confidence to travel down to and invest in Nigeria.

Adebayo urged government to focus on the domestic carriers by creating an aviation intervention fund to help them stabilise and compete with their peers in other markets.

According to him, “Government should also consider granting licenses to companies that intend to set up Maintenance, Repairs and Overhauling (MRO) facilities in the country as this would help in arrears of developing manpower, by offering training simulations to our personnel within the industry.”

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