Travel agents have lambasted Nigerian banks, accusing them of encroaching in a business they know little or nothing about and have no certification to embark on yet collude with airlines and rip off accredited sale agents.
This is just as the agents have also disclosed that foreign airlines make available on their website, fares which are much cheaper than those available on the agency booking platforms, faulting it as unfair competition, adding that this practice and the bank’s actions are running a lot of agencies out of business.
These travel agents under the auspices of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) made this known at the group’s 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Ibadan, Oyo State at the weekend where they demanded for something to be done before travel agents are rendered extinct by this practice.
Newly elected Financial Secretary of NANTA, Mrs. Ngozi Ngoka, while speaking on this said that banks in Nigeria have become “jack of all trades” and are gradually and consistently encroaching on all businesses including specialised areas such as theirs.
She said the Banks are not licensed to act as airline agents. To her, travel agents undergo a rigorous accreditation process before they are allowed to sell airline tickets.
“Why are airlines colluding with Banks to sell tickets by offering Banks commission and offering agents none?
Ngoka stated that recently, the public had been inundated with adverts by Banks in the country making “ridiculous offers to the general public for the purchase of air tickets from such banks. This growing trend portrays a dangerous situation whereby the banks have abandoned their core business of providing financial services to the public and delving into a business venture that they are not legally licensed to perform.”
On foreign airline’s fare disparity on their website and travel agents platform, she described it as unfair to businesses stating that the airline were competing with the travel agents to sell tickets and are saving the best fares for their sites
Consumers are often shocked by the difference between an advertised airfare and the price they ultimately pay for the airline ticket.
The reason for the discrepancy, according to Ngoka, is that the amount advertised is usually the airline’s “base” airfare on which many surcharges and taxes are levied at the time of purchase.
She said,” We have documented evidence about this practice from Emirates airlines and KLM.”
Ngoka stated that the group had made its position known to the aviation regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), stressing that regulation on it has not been helpful on this matter.
“Our position is that we want a unit to be set up look into fare structure of airlines. Fares are padded. A former Director-General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren was very helpful and serious fought to stop the fleecing of Nigerians. In other climes, aviation regulators look at fare structures. Taxes are higher than base fares.”
Ngoka decried the astronomical cost of air ticket for example to London from Lagos or Abuja, hinting that a situation where air fares to London costs between N400, 000 and N450, 000 for economic class ticket from between N150, 000 and N200, 000 simply cannot be justified, notwithstanding falling Naira against the dollar.
She equally stated that First Class ticket on British carriers and other European airlines has gone up between N1million and N1.5 million to N3 million, describing it as “ludicrous.”