National Association of Nigeria Travel Agents, NANTA has called on the federal government to t o urgently investigate the planned surcharge of 16 euro per ticket issued by Lufthansa through the General Distribution Systems, GDS.
The Association while lamenting the Lufthansa’s planned action through the GDS from September 2015 noted that what they previously considered as rumour was confirmed to be true at the meeting with the airline.
According to the National President of NANTA, Alhaji Aminu Agoha, “We were informed by Lufthansa, that the decision came from the head office of the Lufthansa Group.
“The group comprises; Austrian, Swiss, Brussels and Lufthansa airlines. We were informed that the increase was a business decision to help the group recover payments which they make to the GDS for their services.
“To compensate their agents worldwide, they have developed a Travel Agency Portal which if used to make reservations, would compute fares less 16 euro. Specifically for the Nigerian market, they promised to start charging walk-in customers service charges of $50 and $100 for economy and business class tickets respectively so that Travel Agency fares would be cheaper than theirs.”
He said the joint meeting of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Council of NANTA who deliberated extensively on findings from the meeting with Lufthansa observed that all airlines currently operating under the GDS scheme in Nigeria are subjected to same charges as Lufthansa but have not introduced any GDS Charges.
He maintained that the palliatives which Lufthansa is offering Travel Agencies Worldwide, do not add any value to the Nigerian market.
“In the first instance, introducing service charges on tickets they sell directly to the few walk-in customers to their city offices, will only minimally affect Travel Agent’s sales. Also, upon further investigations, we discovered that the Travel Agent portal, which they propose to introduce, is programmed to operate on a “cash and carry” basis. What this means is that for each ticket booked on that portal, the travel agent will have to make immediate payment by cash as the portal is not synced with IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP). We are alarmed that such a proposal, which could potentially take us back to the pre-BSP era of cash sales, is being proposed to us as a palliative! In an era when the Nigerian economy is going cashless, Lufthansa is introducing a product that would be purely on “cash and carry” basis, many years after the introduction of BSP in Nigeria”, Agoha.
NANTA President observed that Lufthansa’s plan to sign on non-IATA accredited travel agents onto the so called Travel Agent portal will re-introduce unprofessionalism and inefficiency –elements as the body has fought long and hard to eliminate-from our market.
Lufthansa’s planned surcharge of 16 euro will increase the cost of Lufthansa tickets in Nigeria. Another Airline operating in Nigeria which has its own travel agent booking portal, in addition to the GDS is not introducing extra charges for bookings done via the GDS. We therefore view this planned charges by Lufthansa as another ploy to engage in Capital flight, Agoha said.
According to him: “Although this surcharge will be borne directly by our passengers, we are of the view that it is our duty, as travel agents, to protect our loyal passengers and the Nigerian public by informing them of the unnecessary extra charges which they will incur each time they chose to fly Lufthansa.
We call on all Travel Agents in Nigeria to ensure that their passengers are aware of this charge and advise them of cheaper alternatives. We hope that this measure will drastically reduce the sale of Lufthansa tickets in Nigeria and make them understand the importance of considering the uniqueness of each market in which they operate and not subject the Nigerian market to a “global decision.”
Agoha explained further that, “It is only in Nigeria that airline fares are regularly increased without any corresponding increase in the quality of the services they offer on the Nigerian route. It is also only in Nigeria that worldwide temporary surcharges arising from periodic fuel fluctuations are never removed from fare structures irrespective of the any changes in global fuel prices. New surcharges are constantly added but never removed. This sharp practice by airlines operating in Nigeria has ensured that we have one of the highest airline costs in the world.”
He stated that it is also only in Nigeria that International Airlines collude with some Financial Institutions and Courier companies to engage in the sale of tickets to the public.
In his words, “we hereby call on the federal government of our great Country, Nigeria, through the regulatory bodies to urgently investigate: the Planned surcharge of 16 euro per ticket by Lufthansa, alarming rise in the cost of tickets in Nigeria, structure and composition of fares offered by International Airlines in Nigeria, possible anti-trust practices by International Airlines Operating in Nigeria, sale of Airline tickets by Financial Institutions and Courier companies. “
He emphasised that as patriotic citizens of this country, they at NANTA are available to partner with regulatory bodies to sanitize the travel industry market with a view to ensuring that fares offered in Nigeria are at par with those of other countries and that Airlines operating in Nigeria, conform to global best practices.