Airfares across Nigeria have increased by as much as 100%, recent checks by Nairametrics confirms. Ticket fares to cities like Port Harcourt, Ilorin, and northern states like Kebbi, Borno, Adamawa and Kano have increased by as much as 100% in the last one month.
Business and student travellers who spoke to Nairametrics about their experience expressed shock and resentment about the rising cost of airfare in Nigeria especially as travelling by road continues to be risky due to the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
One of them, Olaoluwa Owoeye, told Nairametrics that he was shocked when he observed that the airfare from Lagos to Port Harcourt had gone up by over 100%, from N26,000 to N60,000 (Air Peace) and that flights to the city were fully booked until April 12, 2021.
Another air traveller, Tobi Hassan, who is a Post Graduate student at the Kwara State University, also lamented the recent hike in the fare to Ilorin. “The price had increased from N27,000 to N52,500 when I checked last week. I had no choice but to pay for Overland Airline ticket because I cannot afford to travel by road,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wale Richard, Managing Director of an AgroTech firm based in Lagos but with clients in Kebbi State, told Nairametrics that he was also surprised when he observed that the fare to the state had gone up by over 100%.
According to him, a one-way flight from Lagos to Kano which was N35,000 now cost between N56,500 and N90,000 on Max Air (depending on how early the flight was booked), while it is N73,000 on Air Peace for a second day flight.
Another air traveller, Bimbola Omotayo, a Lawyer, who has been defending some cases in Kano, Kaduna and Abuja, told our analyst that she observed the fares had gone up few days after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended the flight operations of Azman Air.
These are only four out of hundreds of air travellers who have been travelling from Lagos to different parts of the country. Many of them have borne the increase with equanimity, not wanting to expose themselves to the dangers of road travel, considering the high level of insecurity in various parts of the country.
It is revealed that a one-way trip from Lagos to Port Harcourt via Air Peace, which was around N26,000, now costs over N50,000.
Also, Lagos to Kano via Max Air, which was about N40,000, now costs N90,500 (economy tickets as at 11.50pm on Saturday).
An Aviation Consultant, Muyiwa Lucas, attributed the recent spike in naira-to-dollar rate to the surge in the fare, as the development exposed local airlines to more financial needs.
According to him, most of the airlines’ expenses are denominated in dollars.
“The major worry of the airlines is the high cost of maintenance. A C-check that is required every 18 months now costs an average of over $2 million each for every commercial aircraft.
Maintenance is only one component of other obligations. So, if you have N26, 000 tickets now selling for N60, 000 or more, you cannot really blame the airlines, but the economy and its handlers.
Most airlines that have a couple of aircraft running have reduced their frequencies and routes just to be able to cut losses. The fares are up because the government has not helped operators and they have been forced to spread the cost across the traffic available. Though, they feel the pains of their patrons but survival is paramount to them,” Lucas said.
On the other hand, some industry watchers argued that before fares to the other parts of the nation increased, air travellers that ply the northern routes have had to pay twice the usual fare.
One of them, Kayode Bello, explained that shortly after the NCAA suspended the operations of Azman Air, the fares to the northern parts of the country rose by over 100%.
An Aviation consultant, Chris Aligbe, told Nairametrics that though it may not be justifiable to attribute the hike to the recent suspension of Azman Air by NCAA, the sector has witnessed similar trends in the past.
He said, “I cannot give reasons for the hike because I have not conducted my research on the development but we have witnessed similar cases in the sector when an airline will stop operating in a route and competitors in that route will increase the fare. That happens in the industry.”
As far as Gbemi Adeniji, a travel agent, is concerned, the suspension of Azman Air has further worsened connectivity across the country. Though she agreed that there were no facts to support the claim that the airline’s suspension is directly responsible for the development, she argued that when there are limited options for passengers, other airlines increase the fare.
She said, “We have limited options in Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and even in Abuja. With the suspension, the price is meant to rise because when demand exceeds supply, prices tend to rise in the sector.”
Prior to the suspension of Azman Air by the NCAA, the carrier operated 15 daily flights to most destinations in the North comprising Kano, its operational base, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Yola.
How long will the hike last? The experts agreed that if the suspension is lifted, normalcy may return to the route.
But in an exclusive interview on Saturday, the NCAA spokesperson, Sam Adurogboye told Nairametrics that he was not sure when the full audit report would be ready, which would be submitted to the Director-General of the authority.
He said, “It is the outcome of the audit that will determine what happens next. If the airline has addressed NCAA’s safety concerns, it will be asked to resume flight operations immediately.
“The idea behind the audit is to assist the airline and not to kill it and also to ensure lives of passengers are secured. I don’t know if what they will need to do will take a while before they complete the process. We assure Nigerians and other stakeholders that NCAA will do everything possible to safeguard the interests of all.”
On March 16, 2021, the NCAA suspended the flight operations of Azman Air with immediate effect over a series of incidents involving its Boeing 737 aircraft.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the NCAA and signed by its Director-General, Capt. Musa Nuhu.
It stated, “Following series of incidents involving Azman Air Boeing 737 Aircraft, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has pursuant to Section 35 (2) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and Part 22.214.171.124 (A) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2015, suspended the operations of all the Boeing 737 Aircraft in the Fleet of Azman Air Services Limited, with effect from March 15, 2021.”