NIGERIA: Ahead Of Sallah, Air Fares Skyrocket

Most airlines have increased their fares ahead of the Eid-el-Fitri festivities, checks by the Daily Trust have revealed. Therefore, Nigerians travelling for Sallah would…

Passengers boarding a commercial plane at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, during the resumption of domestic flights on July 8

Therefore, Nigerians travelling for Sallah would have to contend with high airfare or go by road as the airlines have significantly jacked up charges across boards. 

Mostly affected were Northern routes including Abuja, Kano, Katsina, Maiduguri and Yola, among others, where many Muslim faithful are expected to travel for Sallah.

While airfares on regular routes like Lagos-Abuja, Lagos-Port Harcourt and Lagos-Uyo, among others are relatively stable and within the N50,000 threshold, the Northern routes have gone up ahead of the Eid-El-Fitri festival with some costing as much as N122,000 for a one-way flight.

 Report show that airlines had in February increased a one-way ticket to a minimum of N50, 000, triggering outrage from some Nigerians while airlines also blamed the increment on the increasing cost of operation. 

The federal government through the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) intervened, calling it a coordinated hike, which must be reversed.

While the fares have not changed except on a few airlines, passengers going home for Sallah are expected to pay more as the fare have further skyrocketed ahead of the holiday.

Checks by our correspondent on the websites of some of the airlines indicated that there has been an increase of between 30 and 80 per cent on most of the Northern routes.

The increase affected bookings from Wednesday, April 27 up to May 2 ahead of the expected long holidays. 

While the Muslim faithful prepare for the Sallah celebration, Nigerian workers are also bracing up for the 2022 Workers’ Day celebration.

But those who have not planned their journeys by booking ahead would have to pay exorbitant prices for air tickets. 

It is even more expensive on routes with relatively little connectivity. 

For instance, Abuja-Kano on Max Air one-way tickets cost N100, 000. It was hitherto pegged at N50, 000. The flight time is about 40 minutes.

Lagos-Kano on Air Peace, which was also fixed for N50, 000 now goes for N60, 000 to N70,000.

Also, Lagos-Kano flights on Azman Air from Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday cost between  N63, 878 and N94, 835.

A Lagos-based business man, Abdullahi AbdulAzeez who spoke with our correspondent said he was able to get a N60,000 ticket to Kano on Max Air because he booked early enough. Even at that, he said the price is high as it was initially pegged at N50, 000.

“I will be going to Kaduna for Sallah on Thursday but booked Kano flight. I could have done Lagos-Abuja but the fear of the Abuja-Kaduna Road did not allow me to do that. 

“My friend who worked with Max Air booked the flight for me. He said the air fare is on the increase. So if I land in Kano, I can easily connect Kaduna from there, instead of going through Abuja-Kaduna where you can be kidnapped.”

He said airlines are taking advantage of the season and the insecurity on the road to hike their fares.

Another Kano indigene in Lagos who plans to travel on Wednesday also decried the high cost of ticket. He said he would have preferred to travel by road because he had some luggage to carry which would be expensive to convey by flight.

“But the insecurity on the road is discouraging people. And many people can’t risk travelling by road.”

But Abuja-Maiduguri on Azman Air still remains N50, 000 flat largely due to the competition on that route. 

On the same airline, Abuja-Gombe, which is also a 45-minute flight is 63,878 while the airline sells Lagos-Kano for 63,878.

The most expensive of all the tickets checked by our correspondent is Lagos-Sokoto, which is between 108,214 to 122,196 on Arik Air. The airline flies to Sokoto three times a week.

Also, Abuja-Sokoto on Max Air is sold at N100, 000 flat from today (Tuesday)

Similarly, the ticket on Lagos- Benin via Arik Air has been marginally increased to 86,978 from N50, 000 while Lagos – Yola on the same airline goes for 70,000 to 86,500.

For Ilorin, checks yesterday revealed that the fare from Lagos remains at N50, 000 but that of Abuja-Ilorin has been increased to N70, 000 as of the time of filing this report. 

Domestic tickets more expensive than int’l flights

Some passengers claimed domestic flights in Nigeria are becoming more expensive than in Europe and America despite the fact that aviation fuel is more expensive over there.

Our correspondent reports that airline operators hinged the hike on tickets to over N50, 000 on the increase in the price of aviation fuel to over N500 per litre.

But a source told our correspondent that some airlines in Europe and the UK have ridiculously cheap fares on the domestic routes. 

For instance, a check on Ryan Air indicated that a 55-minute flight from Dublin, Ireland to Manchester, United Kingdom cost about 14 Euros (N6, 220 at N450 exchange rate). 

Airlines defend fare

Airline operators who spoke with our correspondent said the airfare is a function of demand and supply and also blamed the increase on the increasing cost of operation. 

A member of AON, Barrister Shehu Wada said, “Airlines are finding it extremely difficult to remain afloat, saying the atmosphere is very challenging.”

He noted that the price of aviation fuel known as Jet A1 has not been reduced despite the intervention of the federal government. 

When told about the low-cost flights in Europe, he said the governments might be subsidising some of the airlines. 

Another operator who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “How will I buy fuel at an increased rate and you expect me to charge the same fare? Is there any economic sense in that?’

Contacted yesterday, the General Manager, Public Affairs of the NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye insisted that airfare has long been deregulated and driven by the function of demand and supply.

“If one airline has increased, then go to another. If they didn’t get buyers on all fronts, they would reduce it. It has been there over the years now, it is not new.” 

An aviation analyst, Prof. Anthony Kila in a chat with our correspondent also defended airlines, saying the increment was not because airlines are “wicked” but due to the economic realities. 

However, he noted that the increment only affected airports without much traffic, saying the standard routes like the Lagos-Abuja have been stable.

He said, “For instance, the Sokoto you talked about is an extra leg. So it will be doubled. But in any case, you can’t get the price of N50, 000 anymore. The Minimum now is N64, 000. It is not because airlines are wicked. We have all seen that the prices of things have gone up in the country. Airlines hiked fares for the fuel they use in their aircraft and the diesel they use in their offices. The consequences of all these is that the cost of managing an airline has gone up. The only way to stay alive is for them to increase the prices. So when the factors of production go up, it affects the prices and the people that bear the brunt are the consumers. It is the consequence of the economy.

“If the government wants to help, what they need to do is to reduce the taxes to help the aviation sector because if you look at your ticket, there is a section for the fare itself. You will see the components. One is the fare and another one is the taxes.”


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