Airlines raise fares amid flight shortage at Lagos airport
Local airlines yesterday increased ticket fares to take maximum advantage of high passenger demand on some domestic routes. The increase, which is as high as 100 and 200 per cent on some airlines, was influenced by the shortage of flights available, especially on the Lagos and Abuja routes.
The development left several passengers stranded at the Lagos airport, forcing some of them to travel by road. The Guardian yesterday observed an unusual heavy presence of air travellers at both General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and Murtala Muhammed Airport II (MMA2) terminal, in Lagos, quite typical of the period of fuel scarcity. Passengers and travel agents alike were noticed shuttling from one airline to another to see which had seats available and at affordable prices.
At about 2p.m. when The Guardian visited, officials of airlines like Air Peace, Med-View and Dana Air said all Abuja flights were fully booked. Scores of travel agencies were, however, returning with flight tickets for passengers that could pay high fees.
An economy class ticket, Abuja one-way, was sold for between N60, 000–N70, 000, as against N23, 000 and N30, 000 at maximum. Business class ticket went for an average of N90, 000. Arik was, however, selling the minimum of about N45, 000 for economy class and N65, 000 for business on Lagos-Abuja route yesterday.
A travel agent, Yinusa, said the airlines have in the last three days raised fares because of the high passenger demand. He confirmed that passengers have been buying despite the hike. He added: “It is not our fault. Official rate from the airlines for Abuja is N51, 800 (economy) and we too must make small profit. That explains why I am selling for N60, 000. You cannot get ticket on the counter; no seat available. Seats are scarce these days. Even all first and second flights (Lagos-Abuja) are already fully booked,” he said.
It will be recalled that domestic travel operations had since last weekend turned chaotic with the grounding of three Air Peace aircraft out of the 10 in its fleet.
Air Peace currently has the largest market share of domestic passenger traffic in the country. With multiple rescheduling and cancellations on Air Peace schedule nationwide, there has been a chain-reaction across the industry with traffic pull to other operators that struggling with low capacity.
Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said each of the grounded aircraft executes about eight flights per day and in total, the development means 24 flights disrupted every day.