Building Of Agro-Cargo Airports By State Governments Misplaced Priority—Benard Bankole

The Group Managing Director, Finchglow Travels, Mr. Bankole Bernard has described the construction of Agro-Cargo Airports by state governments as misplaced priority .

He said this while speaking with Aviation journalists yesterday in Lagos.

As at the last count, states such as Benue,Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Ekiti, Anambra, Kano, Kwara, Rivers, Taraba, Ogun,Niger and Plateau  have either completed their Agro-Cargo Airports  or still ongoing.

Bernard’s reaction is coming on the heels of  the proliferation of Agro- Cargo Airports by state governments across the country and its sustainability in view of the current economic situation.

“To me, that is another misplacement of priority.. Agro-cargo airport is a capital project. It is easier to make money and name when you embark on a capital project. None of them wants to come in and continue on any legacy project not completed by their predecessors because the people will ask you ‘what did you do? he said.

He, however, said that there is nothing actually wrong if they get their priority right.

In.his words, “You cannot be in a state where all the interstate roads are bad and Agro-Cargo Airport is the priority. You can not be in a state where all the schools are mushrooms and teachers’ salaries are not paid, then, Agro-Cargo Airport is what is important to you. Can we get our priority right? The government needs to get their priorities right. The concept is a beautiful one, but it is about setting priority right.”

On his take on the international airlines trapped funds
which the International Air Transport Association (IATA )said last week has risen to $743 milion Bernard said that it is an unfortunate situation where certain things are misplacement of priority.

According to him, “We have a choice in business; if the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) says their funds as it were, once they make sales in local currency, change it to foreign currency, we should be able to fulfill that obligations because reputation damage causes a lot and it is one of the things that made an airline like Emirates and Etihad Airways to leave when we could have had more airlines coming into the market, but they don’t want their funds to be trapped.

“So, they will go to another market that is lucrative and this would not have been possible if we were doing proper dialogue.”

“If you say that you do not have funds for them at official rate as it were, if you are going to make them pay for a premium, they will sell the ticket at a premium and they will be able to repatriate their funds, but you don’t give them at the official rate and they are unable to repatriate their money,” he said.

The Group Managing Director noted that it is not only wrong but also fraudulent as a nation, adding that it is not good for Nigeriia’s image.

“Today, the rate at which we are issuing tickets is N551 to a dollar. Is that the official rate? No, but that is the rate we are issuing tickets, which is moving closer to the black market. This means the issue of trapped funds would not have been if it had been properly managed,” Bernard noted.

The Flinchglow Group Managing Director contended that the funds became trapped because Nigeriia was not ready to give them at the official rate and that the government should have come out all these while and tell them the rate you would give the airlines so that they can sell their tickets at particular rates as long as it is official.

He said that after all, Nigeriia has multiple exchange rates, wondering what makes this one different.

According to Bernard, “This thing is all about applying your sense, but we have a lot of people that are not willing to think. Now that we have started to sell tickets at N551 to a Dollar, I can tell you that the issue of trapped funds will move as fast as possible and it will come to zero. To fly to London now, it’s about N1 million and that is the cheapest.”

Speaking further, Bernard said that the law of demand and supply is what is applicable in every business, adding that If the supply outweighs the demand, the price would crash, but when people are threatened by the fact that their funds cannot be repatriated, the next thing they start to do is to reduce inventories so that they can make money.

He explained that in the airline business, there are two ways of selling; you either sell volume or you make yield.

He said that volume is when you have a lot of people while yield is when you sell a few, but you still make your money..


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