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.
Checks 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).
Similarly, the airfare to Ilorin from Lagos has also increased from N27,000 to N52,500.
According to a traveler, 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 a few days after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended the flight operations of Azman Air.
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,” he added.
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.
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.
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.