Airline operators in the nation’s aviation sector are cashing in on fluctuating foreign exchange, naira devaluation and the security situation in the South Eastern and northern parts of the country to increase their airfare astronomically.
The five South-Eastern and six South -Southern states in the country have been embedded in series of security challenges making travellers abandon road for air travel.
The North-West and North-Central are also not spared from security challenges ranging from banditry, kidnapping for ransome and terrorism.
However, due to the insecurity in these regions and to get cheaper air tickets, travellers bound for travelling during the yuletide seasons (christmas and new year), have been booking ahead but, at a very high price.
For instance, a visit to air peace airline’s website yesterday showed that a one-way ticket from Lagos to Enugu, Abuja Owerri, Lagos Port-Harcourt between December 23 to 27 is about N100,000.
Also, Dana Air, one of the cheapest airline in the nation’s aviation sector also have same high ticket prices as a return ticket during the period under review from Lagos-Owerri, Abuja – Port-Harcourt and Lagos -Port – Hacourt are also in the range of N95,000 – N100,000.
A visit to United Nigeria airline’s website, a one-way ticket from Lagos to Owerri cost N94,000 while Lagos to Enugu cost N91,000 as at the time of visiting the site.
Aviation stakeholders have, however, said the price of a return ticket from the security challenged states may hit N200,000 for those who book in December due to high demand and current security situation in the regions.
Moreover, passengers have, however, groaned over the high price saying when yuletide draws nearer, the price will definitely go up.
Speaking, Chika Onyeka, a business man in Lagos who travel by air to Anambra state every Christmas said eventhough, price of tickets gobup during the festive period, it has never gone this high.
According to him, if the ticket price could be high in October, what will be the price in December that happened to be the yuletide season.
“If ticket price for December travel could be this high in October, what will happen in December? And the road is practically not safe for my family and I to travel from Lagos to the East, so whatever needed to be done should please be done to ensure that ticket price comes down,” he said.
The secretary general, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said passengers planning travels to the South-East during the yuletide season should be ready to pay more air fare.
According to him, the current air fare is not realistic due to the hight foreign exchange rate in the country.
He said, “The current air fare rate is not realistic at the current naira to dollar rate. If at anytime since 1990 is less than $100 for about one hour flight generally then the Christmas period attracts more air passengers than any period especially between the major cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Owerri, Benin Calabar and now Uyo.
“So, passengers willing or planning movements within these cities about December should be ready to pay nothing less than $100 or N60,000 for one leg or N120,000 for return tickets. This is a realistic fare in a country that produces nothing for commercial aviation from aircraft to the spare parts, fuel, insurance and sometimes, the technical crew that come with lease Airport,” Ojikutu said.
Also speaking, president, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria (AOPAN), Alexander Nwuba said the ticket price will still increase as there will be increase in the demand for seats of airplanes.
Nwuba, also disclosed that selling tickets cheaply in December will amount to loss of revenue to airlines.
He said, “the cause of increase in ticket price should be obvious because everything is priced in dollars and by December N96,000 will be about $150 so, it reflects the expected value of money later in the year.”
Also, during the end of the year, there is high demand for airplanes’ seats and airplanes seats are considered a perishable items just like hotel rooms and once the night passes, the value is lost.”
“Tickets soldly cheaply in December are a loss of revenue to the airline that makes most of its money during peak season. You are now looking at advance fares, as the period approaches you should expect N150,000 to N200,000 tickets fare,” he said.