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Airlines increase fares by almost 100%, blame exchange rate

Checks also showed that an Azman Air Lagos-Kano economy flight ticket that used to cost N30,000 now goes for N55,000

Some local airline operators at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja have attributed the increase in fares to the current exchange rate.

Officials of the airlines who spoke to NAN on Monday said the aviation industry is reliant on the dollar because aircraft parts can only be obtained from abroad.

Kehinde Ogunyale, Max Air station manager, 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”.

A single trip from Lagos to Abuja on Air Peace now costs up to N60,000 for an economy ticket.

“The fare actually went up. From Abuja to Lagos last week, the highest fare was N35,300 (economy class) and N80,000 (business class). From Abuja to Lagos at present, the highest fare is N60,000 (economy class) and N98,000 (business class).”

Ogunyale explained that the festive season also contributed to the 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, we will need to lower down the prices. As I said, this is the high season.”

Abdulmalik Jibreel, the station manager of Aero Contractors, the company had no option than to increase the fare to meet the demand of foreign exchange in the market of aircraft parts.

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“Government should make a certain percentage for the airlines of `FOREX` as special price by Central Bank of Nigeria. By so doing, this may make ticket fare to drop,” he explained.

“Government needs to step into the aviation sector because we do not manufacture any part of aircraft in Nigeria. One of the previous administrations in the country once waved custom duty on all spare parts of aircraft.

“Government needs to take all these steps to make the aviation sector viable. If not, masses will pay for it.”

Checks also showed that an Azman Air Lagos-Kano economy flight ticket that used to cost N30,000 now goes for N55,000 while Dana Air’s Lagos-Abuja flight was sold for N56,000 as against the previous N29,000.

A single trip from Lagos to Abuja on Air Peace now costs up to N60,000 for an economy ticket.

James Odaudu, director for public affairs at the ministry of aviation, said the ministry did not have any power to fix ticket prices for airlines.

“The ministry does not have the power to fix tickets prices for airlines. If airlines feel they can increase their tickets, others should take advantage of lowering their tickets prices,” he said when contacted for comments.

“Masses should learn to patronize the ones with lower prices. The others will be forced to go with market forces. It is all about the forces of demand and supply.”

Kingsley Ezenwa, DANA Air spokesman, attributed the increase in fare to the festive season leading to progressive fare regime.

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He said Nigerian C-check regime which requires every aircraft to go for mandatory checks between 18 to 24 months now costs an average of $2 million per commercial aircraft.

“You do the maths. At N500 to $1, a C-check is now N1 billion; just for one aircraft! And that is one component of other obligations,” he said.

“So, if you have N33, 000 tickets now selling for N70, 000, you cannot really blame the airlines, but the economy and its handlers. All the airlines that are lucky to have a couple of planes in operation have reduced their frequencies and routes just to be able to cut losses.

“Since the government has refused to help us, we have to spread the cost across the traffic available. We feel for our customers, but survival is paramount.”

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