By Prince Okafor

Nigerians traveling by air to other states in the country might be forced to risk land transportation for their travels with the price of airfares rising significantly.

This development has taken a different turn, as stakeholders in the sector advise passengers on alternative plans.

They also noted that the sector is currently in a state of emergency and requires urgent attention.

Also, between the first and second quarter of 2022, the price of airfares has risen by 38 percent to N80,000 for one way journey.

The price of air tickets which was agreed by stakeholders in the industry in the first quarter of the year at N50,000 has continued to rise on a daily basis.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that the development was a result of the hike in aviation kerosene also known as Jet A1, scarcity of foreign exchange along with the closure of the domestic runway at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.

A survey of prices by airlines showed that economy class tickets for a one-way journey have risen to N78,000, N71,000 to N82,000,  for different airlines. 

Experts react

Meanwhile, an aviation analyst, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, in a chat with Saturday Vanguard said: “There is a major concern in the sector that needed an urgent response. If you are going on a trip, always have an alternative plan as you might walk up to the airport, and discover your flight has be canceled or rescheduled.

“Also, you might book a flight with an airline, if they have limited number of passengers, you might be forced into a smaller aircraft. This is a means for the airline to save cost for fuel.

“There is also another arrangement where an airline might send you to another because they have limited passengers. It is really a serious concern.

“I believe there will be that initial shock, a little withdrawal but the insecurity on the road, they will have no choice. The fears will increase, and there will be more demands because already two airlines are out of the market, and no replacement yet.

“Maybe along the line when these airlines return there will be more stability. This development would assist some airlines to recoup their losses, as there’s already a huge loss in the sector. On weekly basis, there might be some level of profit, but in financial books, it is the end of the year that companies look at.”

Also, the President of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, ASRTI, Dr, Gabriel Olowo in a chat, advised airlines to sell what they buy, stressing that a price increase is better than negotiating safety by cutting corners.

He said: “This is my candid opinion to Airlines, given these uncontrollable factors of production in the Airline Industry sector. Demand will definitely drop but much better than cutting corners and planning an accident.

“The spirit of Spring Alliance must be strengthened. “The sector must not negotiate an accident. NCAA is encouraged to be more vigilant to watch cutting corners.”

Passengers lament

Meanwhile, Nigerians using air transportation for travel have continued to lament their ordeals following the recent development in the price of airfare.

One of the passengers, who preferred anonymity, told Saturday Vanguard that, “With all these ongoing, it shows there is no sanity. Nobody is thinking of the common man, they are more concerned about their pocket. Imagine a trip from Lagos to Abuja at N162,000, where are we going from here? This is really sad. The roads are not safe. Those that were kidnapped inside the train, many months ago, are still in captivity. 

We have not even talked about the constant cancellation of flights.

Also, Mr. Ejiro Aghogho, a businessman who was about to board a flight, noted that the development is terrible.

He said: “We thought we could have a safe haven despite the recent hike earlier this year, away from the attack by terrorists causing mayhem on the road, but it looks as though they are using our travails to rip us off our hard earn money.

Way forward

The Principal Managing Partner, Avaero Capital Partners, Sindy Foster, stated that, “What the industry needs now is focused attention to find solutions. The cost structure needs to be overhauled across the board.

“Costs need to be reduced, and revenues need to be increased. Forex and aviation fuel need to be made available at more affordable prices. Local refining of aviation fuel should be a higher priority.

“This is what the Federal Government should be focusing their attention on.”

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.