The President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents, Mr Bankole Bernard, has asked the Federal Government to pay more attention to the aviation downstream by putting the right policies in place to reduce capital flight.
Bernard, who is also the managing director of Finchglow, said the downstream sector should be left to Nigerians to manage so as to create employment opportunities and generate internal revenue for the sector.
He explained that the downstream sector of the aviation industry covered travel agents, ground handlers and the catering companies, among others.
Bernard said, “What foreign direct investment in the aviation downstream sector does most of the time is that they are never concerned about the growth of that downstream sector; they are more interested in returns and investments.
“Some of the foreigners can come in and partner and this creates growth and development but the government should not let them come and operate and take back the income generated to their countries, as this will lead to capital flight.”
The NANTA president explained that if there were no proper regulations, a foreigner with financial strength could come into the country and completely push indigenous companies out.
“If I want to take loan in Nigeria, I will be asked for collateral. In some countries around the world, they don’t need collateral to get loans. When foreign direct investment is being expected, there are other areas that they can invest in. Some of these areas are aircraft leasing, Maintenance Repair Overhaul and training academy. These areas will benefit the country. So, why must it be the downstream sector? The MRO is not a downstream sector,” he stated.
Bernard also expressed concern over lack of harmonised data in the aviation sector, adding that there was a need to have a central data system that would be managed by an independent body to coordinate the entire aviation industry.
“What I am proposing is a centre data system which is autonomous, independent of other units, just like what the International Air Transport Association is doing for different countries,” he said.