• As Abuja maintain lower rate
•Lagos travellers pay 439% more
•Why we charge different fares from Nigeria-London — BA
By Prince Okafor
Passengers travelling from Lagos to London in the coming days might be forced to travel through Abuja to their destination.
This is coming on the heels of massive differential in airfares for passengers travelling to Heathrow Airport, London through Lagos and those going through Abuja.
Findings by Vanguard Aviation World show that passengers flying on one-way economy ticket through Abuja on British Airways, BA, pay $501 (about N222,093) while those travelling through Lagos on the same airline and ticket class pay as much as $2,700 (about N1,196,910)
Also, passengers travelling through Ethiopian Airline on one-way economy ticket through Abuja pay N700,000, while those going through Lagos on the same airline and ticket class pay as much as N2.8million.
The fare differentials, according to industry operators may not be unconnected to demand and supply differentials but also noted that the distance is almost same for the two routes.
Vanguard Aviation World gathered that flights from London to Abuja take six hours, and 20 minutes, while flights to Lagos from London take six hours and 25 minutes.
Though Air France maintains same fares from both routes the amount is also high at $2,141 (about …) on similar ticket class for a one-way journey.
A traveller who spoke to Vanguard about the development lamented her amazement to the development.
According to her, “I was to travel to London next week. So in a bid to ensure i pay less, I open the booking portal of BA, I was in Abuja and I mistakenly clicked on Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, and i was taken to the price to my amazement, the price i saw there was $2,700 I was shocked.
“I had to check very well to see if i had punched something odd. I realised I inputted Lagos instead of Abuja. So I had to readjust and the price I finally saw was far lower. This was quite outrageous as it was not supposed to be so.”
Another traveller who spoke to Vanguard Aviation World, said: “Why will Ethiopian Airline, and Africa airline put their airfare to London this high? I was expecting their price to be lesser than others but I was wrong.
“Even the price in Lagos differs by a far margin. Why would it be so?
The ministry responsible should look into it, as for me it can only be attributed to extortion.”
Why our airfares differ in Nigeria – BA
Speaking to Vanguard Aviation World on the situation, BA’s Spokesperson, Josephine Simmons, explained that airfares can differ due to availability, airport taxes and other factors.
She stated: “Prices differ by airport due to numerous factors including customer demand and fare charges – including airport taxes.
“Most customers book their flights in advance, benefiting from competitive fares.”
Other stakeholders comment
The development has created a series of reactions from both stakeholders and travellers across the country.
While some stakeholders attributed the development to the exploitation of Nigeria’s passengers, others stated that the less demand in Abuja was strengthened by the security challenges.
According to the Principal Partner, Avaero Capital, Sindy Foster, the development possibly might be due to more demand than supply in Lagos.
“If BA had more demand from Abuja price would probably be higher. Most people are not flying direct between Abuja and London. I expect demand for Abuja went down due to security issues.
Flights tend to be lower if there is more supply against demand. It is good that prices have come down in Abuja. Will be interesting to work out why they are still high in Lagos. I suspect there is less demand for Abuja.
The chairman of United Nigeria Airline, Obiora Okonkwo, said: “Why do foreign airlines charge Nigeria so much?
“In the aviation industry, one-hour flight fuel consumption is the same, the only difference is maybe different landing charges in London or Ghana, the rest is the same.
“I can assure you that if Air Peace goes to London today, Nigerians will fly to London with an Economy ticket of N500,000. Today the price is about N2 million, why should we pay such if they are converting from N450 to $1?
“We owe Nigerians this explanation. However, whatever is going on, this is a wake-up call that the local operators have to be supported as they have all it takes to operate internationally.
“Emirates have over $5 billion in support from their government. When we ask for support, it is not free, we pay back. American Airlines have equity of over $60 billion and a debt profile of $70 billion and those debts all come from government support.
“If the local airlines are supported, we can have the capacity that cannot be threatened globally. The easiest flight to operate is a long haul. Short haul is even more difficult as it is stressful to both the aircraft and cabin crew.
“It is even easier to go to London, aviation is the same globally, you are audited by IOSA, IATA and that is, they prevented us and make us looks bad.
“They are also aware that our quality and regulatory standards are high. We get crews and captains coming to Nigeria and they fail our exams and we send them back.”
Foreign airlines frequency in Nigeria
It would be recalled that Nigeria, a destination of over 22 foreign carriers, manages Bilateral Air Services Agreements, BASA, with over 78 countries.
These airlines operate daily, and weekly in Nigeria.
Ethiopian and ASKY, Togolese airline also operated by Ethiopian Airline, together operate 54 frequencies weekly in Nigeria.
African World Airways (AWA) has 49 frequencies per week; British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate 21 frequencies weekly into Nigeria; EgyptAir with 16; Air France 15; Saudi Arabian Airways 13; Emirates 11; Lufthansa 11; Air Cote d’Ivoire10; Qatar 9; South African Airways 7.
Others were Delta, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, Sudan Airways, and Turkish Airways, which enjoy seven frequencies without reciprocity from Nigerian airlines.
Also, Etihad has five frequencies; Fly Mid Africa has four; Middle East Airlines – has four and Air Italy formerly Meridiana has three weekly flights to the country.