Air passengers to pay more as operators increase ticket fares, give reasons

Patrons of air travel are now to pay more as airline operators have increased fares by 100% on all their routes.

The new airfare is now from N50,000 and above depending on the destinations.

Already, the operators in their various social media platforms are appealing to passengers to bear with them as the previous fares cannot can no longer sustain their operations.

There have been series of complaints by operators that the operating environment is harsh to sustain their operations without running at a loss.

Their major challenges they say, include among others, lack of access to forex for spare parts, maintenance, the oscillating price of aviation fuel and hike in services rendered by service providers in the industry.

Captain Abdullahi Mahmoud, Managing Director of one of the domestic airlines says, aviation fuel accounts for 45-50% of their operating cost as a litre of the product is now sold above N400.

“As of today fuel in Lagos is N202 per litre, in Abuja N418, Yola N438 and Maiduguri N440 per litre so,your cost is increasing, your revenue is dropping”.

Another Operator, Chief Obiora Okonkwo also emphasized that, the industry is dollar based and when there is no access to forex, the business would collapse.

“We are not father Christmas, we are not running a charity organization, somebody has to bear the cost, there should be adjustments to accommodate all these expenses. The adjustment is justifiable otherwise the industry will just collapse and when the industry collapse, the economy will be affected”.

Last week, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, gave 16 reasons why flights are delayed when there was public outcry over incessant delays of flights.

This perhaps indicated that, it was time for the operators to take the bold step of sustaining their operations with an increase in airfares.

Stakeholders in the industry say, the increase was long overdue.

President, Aviation Roundtable Safety Initiative, ART, Dr. Gbenga Olowo says, tariff has been deregulated and airlines are free to charge their fares depending on the economies of their operations.

He wondered how the operators have stayed afloat in the business charging less than a $100.

“Any tarrif that goes up this time in question especially to N50,000 is still a joke to me because this mere $80 today. As far back as  1994 which is 28 years back, one hour on jet was a $100 are we going to say those airlines were over charging?”.

Also justifying the increase, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia emphasized that, training of pilots are done abroad and some of the pilots are paid in dollars depending on their aircraft lease type.

“N50,000 is justifiable, why do I say that? All the service providers that support the airlines have increased their prices, the government is aware of that, NCAA endorsed it, ground handling companies raised their fares. Airline that was handled N20,000 is paying N70,000”.

Mr. Femi Adeniji a maintenance engineer says, government must come to the aid of the airlines with palliatives in form of waivers and tax reduction.

“This was brought up by myself and other airline operators in Nigeria at the end of the day, they granted some and between customs and Ministry of finance they started playing politics of the approval needs to come from the Minister, the approval needs to come from customs department, from the finance department”.

As many awaits the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, the regulator of the industry to speak on this recent development, air passengers are complaining that, the 100% increase in fares was too much.

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