Exploitative Fares: Aviation Expert Explains Why Nigerians Pay more for International Travel

•FAAN repairs Lagos airport runway

Chinedu Eze

The decision for air passengers to pay in naira instead of in dollars may be the reason why Nigerians are paying more for international air travel.

Foreign airlines close their low inventory and open their high inventory for Nigerians who wish to pay for tickets in naira, while the low inventory are available in dollars.

The President of Aviation Round Table (ART) and also the President, Sabre Network, West and Central Africa, Dr. Gabriel Olowo explained to THISDAY, that Nigerians chose to limit payments of travel only to naira, whereas fares globally are dominated in dollars.

In other words, foreign airlines have disinclination to the naira because of its weakness and the fact that if they sell tickets in naira they may not be able to repatriate their revenue in time.

This he said had prompted them to advertise their high inventories in naira so that anyone buying ticket in the Nigerian currency would pay more, but if such person was paying in dollars, he would purchase tickets on low inventory prices.

Olowo further explained that purchase of tickets was as a result of, “chances, choices and consequences”

“Whereas Nigerian airlines whose fuel uplift (fuel being the highest cost element) here at home is bleeding them, talk less of foreign carriers whose major cost elements are borne at their head offices outside Nigeria.

“Earning net of taxes has a huge backlog of remittance dating back to more than one year in the face of galloping devaluation. The alternative is to permit payment options in USD, credit card and any other strong currency but not restricted to Naira. You can be sure the airlines will open all inventory immediately for sale because dollar will be remitted for dollar,” Olowo explained.

He also emphasised that the services of foreign airlines were highly needed in Nigeria because Nigerian airlines have not grown to fill the vacuum which absence of foreign airlines would create.

“Without being an advocacy for foreign airlines, their services are highly needed because Nigerian carriers have not evolved to the level of filling the gap, not due to their own fault but that of the state, the state lacks the will. As we speak, National Carrier is eight years in Pregnancy.

“Until Nigeria births strong airlines, pressure on Naira will persist and restriction on the Nigeria point of sale will remain. No amount of appeal or coercion will solve the problem. It is simply market dictates,” he said.

However, the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has lamented that foreign airlines exploit Nigerian travellers by selling tickets at outrageous fares.

Recently the association said it was seeking a solution to eliminate the fare profiteering of foreign airlines in Nigeria, which charge exploitative tickets on Nigerian passengers, leaving their low fares in foreign currency.

NANTA President, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, had described the high inventories as unfair and uncompetitive.

Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has said flight operations would not be disrupted as a result of the ongoing repairs being carried out at the international runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMIA), Lagos, known as Runway 18R.

The acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, said the airport runway was not closed while repairs were going on and that flight operations have continued without any disruption because of the strategic way the work is going on.

“Flight operations have continued. Only a part of the runway is going through maintenance work. There is no disruption of flight operations at all. Flights are still landing and taking off,” Hope-Ivbaze said.

The maintenance is projected to take duration of eight weeks.

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