Stakeholders in the travel sector are calling for the enforcement of existing laws to protect the Nigeria travel market.
They say, the call became necessary following practices by both local and foreign airlines which were undermining their business.
Speaking at the 46th Annual General Meeting of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, NANTA, in Kano, President of the Association, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye said, the issue of price fixing by airlines and other anti-competitive behaviours if not addressed would continue to create problems in the market.
The travel agents, cited the recent increase of domestic fares and foreign airlines last year December stopping travel agents from selling tickets to inbound Nigeria passengers.
Other issues involved are the violation of passengers rights, poor service delivery and the sudden change in the remittance of ticket sales by the International Air Transport Association, IATA.
Mr. Nureni Jimoh, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, delivering a paper on the theme of the conference: ‘Antitrust: Opportunities Available for Protection of the Nigeria Travel Market’ said,these practices have continued because there were lack of proper regulatory mechanism.
He said, change was required to effectively protect not only the travel agents but also the consumers.
“These airlines operate in Nigeria, and whether they admit it or not, there is gain to be made here for which reason they should be prevented from acting in a way that is inimical to our economic market. However, the lack of effective prosecution of cases involving anti-competitive practices in Nigeria may be one of the reasons why they are able to perpetrate such acts without repercussions”.
He added, ” It is important that government agencies and other regulatory bodies in the aviation sector conduct a necessary review of the regulations and regulators available to provide recourse not only to Travel Agents, but also their customers in the event that Airlines act in an anti-competitive manner. This would facilitate a push back on such practices and force the airlines to comply”.
President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye and other members stressed the need for the regulatory agencies to do more in addressing the impediment put on the path of growth of their business.
“And these issues are real and quite a number of our members are being affected and some were unjustly punished. If you don’t want anything in your country, reject it. What we would love to see how the regulator would have in depth understanding of our business”.
In their responses to the appeal, the Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu and the Chief Executive Officer, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera assured NANTA that, they would leave no stone unturned in enforcing the laws when necessary, adding that, actions taken on the airlines would be publicized soon.
“Everybody knows what to do, the issue is we work in silos, there is no collaboration, we need to work together as a team so that, we all understand each others problem and we can better work together and find solutions collectively as a team. From the competition standpoint
am interest to know if what is happening is that airlines are coming together to develop a strategic to squeeze out the agencies, am interested”.
A quarterly meeting of all stakeholders is scheduled to hold two weeks time by the NCAA to discuss the problems and proffer solutions.