By Chinedu Eze
Africa’s most profitable carrier, Ethiopia Airline, has said it does not charge higher fares from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, than from the other airports it is operating from in Nigeria.
The airline, which is the only international carrier that operates from the South-east airport to connect to other destinations in the world, said it does not discriminate against the passengers that travel from the zone through the Enugu airport.
Travel expert, Ikechi Uko, who is close to the airline, made this known on his Facebook account and explained that Ethiopia Airlines flagged off flight operations from the Coal City in August 2013 and has maintained its service there despite the undulating economic situation that has affected passenger traffic from the route.
Former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, on his twitter handle wondered why the cost of airfares from Enugu to China is higher than from Lagos to China and demanded for explanation.
Reacting to his observation, many Nigerians from the South- east who travel frequently from Enugu with the airline said fares from the route are not always higher, noting that everything depends on when a passenger bought his ticket and the season.
The travellers noted that the allegation always comes up in seasons when the fare from Enugu rises beyond that of Lagos, remarking that this has been addressed in the past.
Uko also said, “Ethiopian Airlines cannot discriminate against the passengers they expect to fill their planes from Enugu. Ethiopian Airlines is the only international airline that flies from Enugu. Since the opening of the airport to international flights, it has maintained a consistent service to the city even when there were not much passengers on the route.
“In 2017, the Airline embarked on a roadshow to all the states in the South-east in order to shore up the passenger volume from Enugu. During the visit to the markets, kings and governors in the South-east, the airline pledged to provide world class services to the people. The leaders also promised to support Ethiopian Airlines in its operations in the region,” he said.
Uko who is also the organizer of Akwaaba African Travel Market, remarked that the people of South-east have so far supported Ethiopian Airlines as was promised and the airline has also kept their part of the bargain.
“So it will not be in the interests of the airline to discriminate against the same people it has sacrificed so much to serve. The price differences between Lagos and Enugu can be explained by reason of load factor. Aircraft type and yield and has nothing to do with distance flown and political reasons. Ethiopian Airlines chose to fly to Enugu and sustained the flight even during rough patches.
“Ethiopian Airlines stopped flying to Kaduna since October 2018 when the route became unsustainable. So the comparison with Kaduna Airport is incorrect. As a responsible airline that cherishes the feedback from its passengers the management will address the issues raised and respond appropriately. The airline appreciates the interest this has generated. It is evidence of the love the South-east people have for the airline and the airline appreciates this love and feels mutually involved with the people too,” he observed.