Fourteen (14) airlines operators in Nigeria,have reportedly withdrawn their services from Nigerian aviation market due to low patronage and the bad economy being experienced in the country.
The Guardian reports that the airlines are among the 50 that operated the Nigerian routes some months ago. Some of those listed are Spanish-owned Iberia airlines, United Airlines and Air Gambia among others.
The airlines are said to have lost about N64 billion in the wake of the new foreign exchange (forex) policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, said the new forex policy and economic recession came with enormous negative effect on travel agencies and airlines. Bernard, who spoke at the Aviation Round Table (ART) breakfast meeting held in Lagos recently, said there was fear that more airlines might quit flying the Nigerian routes.
Condemning the current administration for its inconsistent policy particularly on the naira devaluation, Mr. Bernard revealed that some travel agencies are already considering relocating to Ghana, where “their policies are consistent.”
Also speaking on the issue, the regional manager of British Airways, Kola Olayinka, disclosed that for every $1 million repatriated since the new policy began, the airlines lose not less than N80 million, adding that the immediate and unfortunate effect of the new policy is affecting all foreign airlines that had funds sitting in the Nigerian banks.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari administration had last year introduced a fiscal policy through the CBN, restricting access to foreign exchange and funds transfer out of the country.
The policy has affected the International Air Transport Association (IATA) members with estimated $600 million belonging to operators in Nigeria stranded. The association has since appealed to government to ensure the immediate release of such funds to operators in the Nigerian aviation sector.