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Airfares drop by 50% as competition heightens

By The Citizen
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Airfares on domestic routes have crashed by about 50 per cent from an average of N32,000 to N16,000 for an hour's flight, following the recommencement of flight operations by Dana Air and Chanchangi Airlines, as well as the coming on board of a new carrier, Med-View Airlines, findings by our correspondent have revealed.

The suspension of flights by Air Nigeria, Dana Air, FirstNation Airlines and Chanchangi Airlines around the middle of last year had led to over 35 per cent increase in airfares from an average of N22,000 to N32,000.

Desperate passengers fought to get seats on Arik Air, Aero Nigeria and IRS Airlines, the only major domestic airlines in business then. Their flight tickets were sold for between N30,000 and N35,000.

Specifically, the suspension of flights by some of the airlines led to sharp drop in the number of available seats on planes plying domestic routes, a situation that made air travel a nightmarish experience

However, investigations by our correspondent on Tuesday revealed that the airfares had dropped by about 50 per cent with flight tickets now going for between N14,500 and N25,000 depending on how early a passenger bought the ticket.

The return of Dana and Chanchangi and the commencement of flights by a new operator, Med-View Airlines, in the last two months have led to the drop in airfares, according to findings

Dana Air sells its one-hour flight ticket (economy class) for between N14,000 and N20,000 depending on how early a passenger buys the ticket.

A visit to the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Terminal Two, Lagos, showed that Med-View was selling its one-hour flight for about N20,000 most of the time, while Chanchangi sells it one-hour flight ticket at a flat fare of N17,500.

IRS sells its ticket on some routes, especially the Lagos-Kaduna for N16,000, depending on how early a passenger buys its ticket.

Aero's fares have been fluctuating with its ticket being sold for over N20,000 most times. However, passengers who book online may pay below N20,000.

Arik Air, a major domestic player, has been selling its one-hour flight ticket for a little above N30,000.

Top airline officials told our correspondent under the condition of anonymity that airfares might crash further when existing carriers acquire more aircraft and more operators begin flying.

It was gathered that FirstNation might resume operations before the end of the first quarter.

Insider sources, however, said the airfares might not reduce below N15,000 because the high price of aviation fuel and exorbitant government taxes might prevent the airline operators from reducing the fares below certain levels.

The Assistant General Secretary, Airlines Operators of Nigeria, Mr. Muhammed Tukur, had predicted in January that airfares would crash by about 40 per cent to between N18,000 and N22,000.

He said, 'The industry is controlled by the law of demand and supply. More airlines are coming in, while even the existing ones are buying more planes to cope with the demand.

'I believe during this year, may be in a few months' time, the fares will drop to between N18,000 and N22,000. The reason for the drop is that the airlines will want to fill their planes.' (Punch)