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Discordant tunes over sales of tickets in dollars 

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Abiola Seun Aviation experts have expressed divergent views over the proposal by the former Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, that the Federal Government should allow first-class and business-class passengers to buy tickets in dollars, while passengers in economy pay in naira.Demuren proposed this as a way of solving the squabble between Nigeria and foreign airlines over the carriers’ $464m trapped funds.According to the former NCAA boss, doing this would help the carriers to repatriate their funds with ease and put a stop to the issue of trapped funds or, at best, help to significantly eliminate the problem.Demuren said, “Listen to me, you must take emotions out of it. When people leave the shores of Nigeria, what do they spend? Naira? The people in the first-class and business-class are people who have money, and who can pay in dollars, but it is due to the current forex crisis.“I know that there is a pride in national currency and I believe that there is a wide disparity between naira at the official and the parallel markets and one which leads to speculation. It is dangerous.“This problem needs to be solved and we must stop this problem. Is your family abroad? Ok, will you go by boat to see them when the airlines stop operations? They have money, but they can’t take it out. It is not done in other places. You need to cut your losses. What I am saying is that we can solve it.”Expressing a divergent views, the president, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye, said selling tickets in dollars will be double jeopardy for Nigeria as the dollar is not readily available even at the black markets.She said, “If they are truly experts then they should know that is not the best way to go. We have a challenge and let’s not compound the challenge that is on the ground by selling tickets in dollars.“Assuming the Nigerian government listens and they allow it, we’ve just compounded and tripled our problem as a nation. That is not our local currency and selling in a currency that is not yours is very dangerous to the economy. Right now, there is an economic crisis and we are trying to manage that.”She noted that selling tickets in dollars will further deepen the crisis that the country is going through.“If truly they are experts like you call them, then they should know better not to canvas for sales of tickets in foreign currency. As we speak, someone was even telling me that for her to even get a mallam to bring her some amount of dollars, took him the whole day.“So even in the black market, this dollar is getting scarce, so it’s going to be double jeopardy if we do that.”

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