The Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) has urged the government of Pakistan and the State Bank to allow the remittance to international airlines at the earliest as it is destroying the travel and tourism industry of the country.
Talking to Business Recorder, former TAAP chairman and member executive board Nadeem Sharif said that it would render thousands of people who are associated with the travel industry in Pakistan jobless.
The industry comprises more than 2,200 International Air Transport Association (IATA) accredited and 3,000 non-IATA agencies along with cargo agents and people connected with airlines as well as ground handling agencies.
As per data published by IATA, more than $225 million had to be repatriated for airlines for which approval with the SBP was pending.
In December, IATA warned five countries including Pakistan against non-repatriation of airline funds, being blocked by governments. It called on governments to remove all barriers to airlines repatriating their revenues from ticket sales and other activities, in line with international agreements and treaty obligations.
Sharif said that the volatility in the exchange rates was already hurting the industry and now not repatriating airline funds was further deteriorating the industry.
A source in the industry said that tickets were now being sold from places other than Pakistan and hinted towards Pakistanis being forced to use hawala and hundi channels to buy tickets due to this issue as airlines were wary of selling tickets through normal channels.
Secretary General TAAP Amanullah Suleman said that the amount is increasing with the passage of time.
“As a result of this situation some of the airlines are now considering decreasing their frequency and offering restricted fares which are higher than the normal fares,” he said.
“This situation is quite alarming as it will have a further negative impact on the economy and people of Pakistan in the form of closure of travel agencies amid possible suspension of flight operations by airlines,” Suleman added.
“We apprehend that this situation is turning into a looming crisis which, if not addressed on a timely basis, will further aggravate the situation. IATA has shown concerns and warned that no business can sustain this situation,” he added.
“We want the government to take international airlines into confidence with respect to the time frame of remittances and resolve the issue,” he said.