The Management of Max Air and Aero Contractors have attributed the hike in air fare to the current exchange rate.
In separate interviews with NAN, the airlines stated that $1 that used to be N365, has recently gone up to N480/N500.
Max Air Station Manager, Mr. Kehinde Ogunyale, explained that the industry largely relies on dollar as parts of the craft and it could only be obtained from abroad.
He said, “We need to catch up with the economy. That is why we increase the fare. If not, we may be left behind and will not be able to fund operations anymore.
“The fare actually went up. From Abuja to Lagos last week, highest fare was N35, 300 (Economy Class) and N80,000 (Business Class). From Abuja to Lagos at present, highest fare is N60,000 (Economy Class) and N98,000 (Business Class).”
Ogunyale further said that the festive season also contributed to fare increment. “We are in traditional high season. The demand has outweighed capacity. After this period, we are going to a period called ‘low season’. That is the middle of January, when nobody will want to fly.”
So, in order to attract passengers, he added that Max Air will need to lower the prices later but now is the ‘high season’.
In the case of Aero Contractors, its Station Manager in Abuja, Mr. Abdulmalik Jibreel, explained that the company had increased the fares due to dollar to naira exchange rate, coupled with high demand for tickets by passengers.
Jibreel added that the airlines have no option than to increase the fare to meet the demand of foreign exchange in the market of aircraft parts.
He said, “Government should give a certain discount for the airlines on ‘FOREX’ as special price by Central Bank of Nigeria. By so doing, this may make ticket fare to drop.
“Government needs to step into aviation sector, because we do not manufacture any part of air craft in Nigeria. One of the previous administrations in the country once waved custom duty on all spare parts of air craft. Government needs to take all these steps to make aviation sector viable. If not, masses will pay for it.”
Dr. James Odaudu, Director of Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, cleared the air that the ministry does not have the power to fix ticket prices for any airlines.
He said, “The ministry does not have power to fix tickets prices for airlines. If airlines feel they can increase their tickets, others should take advantage of lowering their tickets prices.
Masses should learn to patronize the ones with lower prices, as the others will be forced to go with market forces. It is all about forces of demand and supply.”