NCAA, Travel Agencies disagree over regulation of agencies’ business

L-R: Bankole Bernard, President, NANTA, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, MD, Medview Airline and Elder Gabriel Olowo, President, ART at the Quarterly breakfast meeting in Lagos on Thursday

…NANTA president, Medview boss call for local content laws, alliance among agencies

Posted by Sade Williams

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and members of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), on Thursday, disagreed over whether the travel agencies business is well regulated or not as both tried to convince travel stakeholders on their positions,  at the Aviation Round Table (ART) First 2019 Quarterly Business Breakfast Meeting titled, “Nigerian Travel Agencies Challenges and Regulations”, held in Lagos.

While the president of NANTA, Mr. Bankole Bernard, explained that the NCAA, rather do its work of protecting and regulating the activities of the agencies in Nigeria, it left it completely for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has been enacting guidelines to help and regulate the travel agency business globally.

He noted that even-though, IATA has been able to bring some agencies together under its umbrella and also help in creating some good financial settlement plans for them, there are no local laws that can protect the agencies and consumers of the services from Nigeria unlike other countries.

“The travel agency business is naturally supposed to be a profitable one but unfortunately, it is not because of inconsistency and poor regulatory system over the years. We do not have local laws that protect the travel agencies, no guidelines that must be strictly adhered to, in fact what we now witness is that we have foreigners who now prefer to patronize their own travel agencies in Nigeria because there are no local laws protecting us.

“IATA has come out with a lot of regimes to ranging from Billing Settlement Plan to the newest one which is New Generation IATA Settlement Plan (NEWGENISS) and even trying to improve on the new one because it has been discovered that if in force, the NCAA will not get its 5 percent charge, yet the global body cannot protect Nigerian agencies except the NCAA because IATA akes only m global rules. For instance, the United Kingdom has local laws protecting such businesses but Nigeria does not. The downstream sector of the business must be reserved for the citizens of Nigeria”, he said.

He also mentioned lack of proper data records, ignorance of contribution of travel agencies to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria; lack of recognition of her contribution to the labour force, among other issues militating against the progress of the travel agency business.

“Lack of National carrier for a full representation of country on the global conference, poor business etiquette of the corporate travellers keeping to covenanted agreement, are some of the issues in the subsector”.

Fromleft, Development Director, Med-View, Alhaji Isiaq Na’Allah, Capt. Tojie Ogisi (rtd) Nigeria Airways), President. National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mr. Bernard Bankole, MD/CEO, Med-View Airlines, Mr. Muneer Bankole and Commercial Director, Med-View Airlines, Mr. Trevon Henry at the 2019 Quarterly Business Breakfast meeting 

Responding, Director of Air Transport, NCAA, Grp. Capt Edom Ita Eyo, said it would be difficult to regulate the agencies because of discrepancies among them.

According to him, IATA is currently dealing with about 600 members of the agencies while only 200 are registered with NANTA and 157 only registered with the NCAA, a situation which he said, present conflicting figures and problems.

“We have identified that the downstream sector have not been adequately regulated but currently we have 157 members registered with us, 600 with IATA and 200 wit NANAT, where does the problem lies, if NANTA does not puts its house together, we cannot regulate what is not registered with us, this is a wake up call, everybody should register with us so that we can regulate them…I urge IATA to ensure that agencies are registered before joining the association”, he said.

Earlier, Bernard noted that until there enabling environment geared towards the growth of the down stream sector of the Aviation industry with proper regulation of the industry through local rules, the issues would remain unresolved.

Also speaking, Mrs. Adetutu Otuyalo, Corporate Sales Manager, British Airways (BA), noted that travel agents are responsible for at least, 50 percent of ticket sales for the airline, adding that BA will continue to support them in all ways.

“BA cannot do without the agents, we will continue to support them, we will continue to provide training and professionalism that is needed, and like other speakers said, there should be laws protecting customers and airlines too”, she said.

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