A former Vice Chairman, the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Chief Segun Adewale, has urged the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to protect travel agencies against alleged extortion by airline operators.
Adewale, the Chief Executive Officer of Aeroland Travels Limited, made this appeal in an interview with newsmen in Lagos on Monday.
NANTA is the Umbrella body of all travel agencies operating in Nigeria.
The chairman said that the NCAA as the regulatory body for aviation in Nigeria should stop the indiscriminate closure of travel agencies and businesses over allegations by airline operators leveled against them.
He said that recently Turkish Airlines slammed his firm with a more than N56 million penalty and another $8,000 penalty for unfounded reasons of alleged breach of regulation.
“NCAA should not be only there to collect fees from us. These are some of the things done by airlines we issue tickets for that they must rise up against.
“We should not allow any airline to treat Nigerian business operators like slaves.
“NCAA ought to be a place of refuge for travel agencies when we have challenges just like the IATA protects airlines.
“NCAA must look into this situation and protect travel agencies.
“We believe since NCAA gives permission to airlines whether to fly or not, the airline will listen to the regulatory body to save businesses in Nigeria,” he said.
Adewale explained that being a licensed agent of IATA, he issued Turkish airline tickets to passengers between March and December 2023 and remitted payments to the airline in United States Dollars (USD) without complaints or queries.
He said that in January the Airline caused an Advanced Debit Memo (ADM) in the sum of N56,728,861 and $8,321 to be issued and charged against his IATA account.
“We did not receive any notice of infringement of any rules or policies from the Turkish airlines and I am also not in breach of any of the provisions of IATA Global Rules and Regulations on ticket booking”.
Adewale said that the NCAA must guide against all actions capable of killing businesses and adding to economic challenges.
According to him, some fellow business colleagues can no longer do business because of the activities of some of these airlines.
”Some of these travel agencies have laid off all their staff and closed down because they cannot pay the frivolous penalties by airlines on the issuance of tickets”.
He added that the Turkish airline was most guilty of this, adding “For every minor infraction, the airline imposes heavy penalties like N10 million and N20 million on ticketing agents.
“So many operators cannot speak out because no one fights their principal; they have left the business because of this high-handedness.
“Now, the airline debited me about N78 million, just this January. They (the Airline) are with another 20,000 dollars because of an alleged unfounded mistake on tickets our firm issued last year,” Adewale said.
He further said that other airlines like Air France, KLM, and others were even encouraging travel agencies to do such transactions to boost the business.
“We are permitted to issue tickets to anyone outside Nigeria so far it is done in dollars, not Naira.
“We are keeping all known regulations. We don’t flout any rule,” he said.
Adewale said that he had directed his lawyer to write the Airline to reverse the debits of N78 million, but the airline didn’t acknowledge the letter nor the email sent to them.