Nigerian air passengers are paying more to travel this Christmas, as one-way tickets by most of the airlines cross the N100,000 mark for economy seats.
Findings by Nairametrics show that Ibom Air is charging as high as N130,000 on the Lagos-Enugu route for the same class of seats.
A cursory look at the websites of most of the airlines showed that the carriers charge discriminatory airfares on Southern routes, while the fares remain relatively stable for the Northern routes, except for Ilorin, where airlines are charging between N70,000 and N80,000 for a one-way ticket.
The current airfares are the highest ever seen in the history of the Nigerian aviation industry. This followed an earlier upward review to an N50, 000 minimal base fare in January, a unanimous move by the airlines.
More details on the increase: On Air Peace, Lagos-Owerri airfares are N100, 000 flat rates for Saturday flights. The airline operates three flights daily to Owerri during this period as advertised on its website.
Also, Lagos-Port Harcourt on the same airline goes for between N70,000 and N78,000, depending on the time such a passenger wants to travel.
Besides, a Lagos-Ilorin ticket goes for N70,000 on Air Peace, while Lagos-Benin was advertised at N65,000, N70,000 and N100,000 for a flight out of Lagos on Saturday, Christmas eve.
Lagos-Akure on Air Peace is being sold at N82,000 and N85,000 for one-way tickets, while the flight to Abuja from Lagos is sold at N60,000, N65,000 and N70,000, depending on the time of departure.
For Arik Air, the situation is the same as flights to any Southern parts remained high but relatively low in the northern states.
A one-way ticket on Lagos-Asaba on Arik Air goes for N75,833 and N93,024, while for its Owerri flights, which resumed earlier in the month because of the festive season, the one-way ticket goes for N71,071, N80,595 and N93,452 all for Saturday flights.
Also, despite the seemingly high fares, some of the tickets are sold out, while the others are blocked. But, for its Lagos-Abuja flights, tickets remained at N52,024 and N61,548.
On Ibom Air, Lagos-Enugu tickets are sold for N98,000 and N130,000 for Saturday flights, while its Lagos-Calabar tickets are between N88,000 and N110,000.
Lagos-Port Harcourt on the same Akwa Ibom State-owned airline goes for N96,000, while its Uyo tickets are sold between N65,000 and N120,000 for the same Saturday flight.
For Dana Air, Lagos-Enugu sells for N85,000 and N125,000 and its Lagos-Owerri tickets go for N78,000, N85,000 and N100,000.
Dana’s flight to Port Harcourt was advertised at N55,000 and N70,000 for the Saturday flight, while its three flights out of Lagos to Abuja sell for N50,000, N55,000 and N60,000, depending on the period of departure.
In all the airlines, it was observed that flights back to Lagos remained cheaper at this time when compared to departures out of the state.
Comparison with 2021 airfares: It is pertinent to note that airfares to Southern Nigerian states always rise during the Yuletide, a peak travel season for many people from that part of the country. For instance, in 2021, one-way tickets to most of the southern states were between N80,000 and N125,000 for most airlines.
Recall that around this time last year. Air Peace was accused of charging arbitrary airfares on South East routes, which it promptly debunked with a press statement, saying that fares are determined through available seats.
Expert’s view on high fares: The former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, has attributed the hike in airfares to Nigeria’s high inflation rate, scarcity of forex and the dwindling fortune of the naira against the dollars.
According to him, the recent inflation, which skyrocketed the prices of every commodity in the country, was responsible for the seeming hike in airfares.
He, however, canvassed for local interlining among the indigenous airlines, saying this would reduce the challenges faced by the travelling public.
Rush for Wet-leased Aircraft: In the meantime, Nairametrics gathered most of the airline’s wet-leased aircraft to shore up their operations. Most of them went for Airbus A320 aircraft.
For instance, almost all the airlines, including Air Peace, Arik Air and United Nigeria have started acquiring more aircraft to meet the expected surge in passenger movement.