Airlines, Travel agents Lament as Airfares Rise by 57%
Airlines operating on the International routes at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos as well as travel agents and other business owners have decried the continual hike of airfares stressing that it was biting harder on their operations and scaring passengers away from travelleing.
Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have been forced to hike their airfares by fifty-seven percent (57%) following the new forex policy introduced by the Federal Government. MARKETING EDGE visited the airport and gathered that the fare was still rising on a daily basis as the situation was adversely affecting business owners, travel agents as well as the airline operators.
Speaking to our correspondent, Managing Director of BT Travels and Tours, Mr. Ariyo Akinfenwa affirmed that the air fares were skyrocketing on a daily basis and it’s greatly affecting the travel agents.
Mr. Akinfenwa pointed out that as at today, “Ghana now is as high as over N80,000 as at the last time I checked, whereas it used to be like between N40,000 and N50,000 on return ticket; the London route has gone as high as N400,000 from the usual N250,000 and almost N300,000, it is about N400,000 or more now. Houston in USA is on the high side just like United Airlines has stopped coming to Nigeria while it is only Delta Airlines that goes to Atlanta because it is as high as N600,000, N700,000 on a return ticket”.
According to him, the hike in airfares is biting so hard on the travel business because of the foreign exchange which is pegged at N283 per dollar whereas at the parallel market, it is over N300 adding that it is affecting the travel business, adding that even the travel agencies are not selling tickets the way they used to sell.
“For instance, you have a passenger that wants to go to London and he says his budget is between N200,000 and N300,000 and you go to the airlines to make enquiries and you get to know that it is about N500,000, that means that you have lost that passenger, the passenger will not fly because, it is affecting his purchasing power. Nigerians’ purchasing power is not corresponding to the current airfares, so it is affecting us”, he affirmed.
Also an official of the foreign airlines who refused to have his name in print said that the hike in airfares was affecting passengers for the airlines as there has been a significant drop of passengers traffic since the airfares began to soar.
“In terms of passenger load for airlines, it is dropping because they are not getting many passengers anymore. For instance, Emirates stopped one frequency, initially they were doing two frequencies per day and now they have reduced it from June 30th to just one per day that is the night flight, on Lagos-Dubai route because the load factor has dropped; imagine that you were carrying 500 passengers, and it has now reduced to 200, you will be forced to cut cost especially with the kind of aircraft you are using”.
“Instead of 100 percent, it is about sixty percent now, because the only set of people that must travel now are the students when they are resuming or business men that are going strictly for business; but for people that want to go and do shopping in Dubai or in London and wherever, they won’t be able to go because the fares have skyrocketed so they can’t afford it thus passengers patronage has dropped significantly”, he stressed.
Meanwhile, one passenger, Mr. Godwin Osai Joseph who spoke to MARKETING EDGE at the terminal building of the airport said that he was travelling to Spain on Air France but stressed that he bought his ticket in Spain at £670.
He, however, said that fares are often expensive and higher in Nigeria when it comes to the high season because the demand for air tickets by passengers would be higher.