Airfares Fluctuate Amid COVID-19 Second Wave

The cost of air tickets along several routes have reduced as business activities have resumed for the New Year, findings by The PUNCH have shown.

The decrease in the price regime was reflected by several carriers on flights for one-way trips from Lagos to Abuja.

Before now, the cost of flights ranged from N60,000 to over N100,000 last year due to rising insecurity in the country and cost of flight operations.

This is amidst the second wave of the COVID-19 virus in which the National Assembly and the Ministry of Aviation were considering banning flights from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries with high rates of COVID-19.

Adeyemi, in a recent interview with The PUNCH, said the National Assembly and the Federal Government were concerned about the second wave of COVID-19.

He stated that the joint National Assembly Committees on Aviation, the Aviation Ministry and agencies in the sector had been holding regular meetings in the past few days on the matter.

He said the meetings were seriously discussing possible impacts of the proposed ban and other associated issues.

Adeyemi said, “We are still trying to study the situation so as to know the appropriate steps to take. It is a very sad situation no doubt.

“The National Assembly and the Aviation Ministry are looking at what really should be done on the call to ban some of the flights coming in, not only from the United Kingdom,  but also other countries where the pandemic spreads are more severe.

“The National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation is discussing with the Ministry of Aviation and we are looking at what can be done and the right steps to be taken.”

Findings by our correspondent showed that Arik Air recorded N38,384 for economy tickets sold at 10:30 am on Tuesday, according to checks by our correspondent. Also, flights for Thursday to Friday were in the region N27,592 for economy flights.

For Azman, passengers were expected to cough out between N40,540 for economy tickets for flights at 10:30 am on Tuesday. Flights for Thursday to Sunday continued to fluctuate between N35,000 and N33,000 for economy passengers

Dana Air was not left out as prices were set at N34, 285 for an 11:15 am flight on Tuesday on economy discount. Prices for the rest of the week for the same package stabilised at N26,185.

Prices on Air Peace ranged from N35,700 for economy flexi for 7:10 pm on Tuesday while prices continued to fluctuate between N29,900 and N27,500 for the rest of the week.

Operators, however, expressed that the dip in prices is due to market forces.

The Public Relations and Communications Manager for Arik Air, Banji Ola said fares were down since passengers no longer had to pay Value Added Tax.

He said, “Well, VAT has been removed from the tickets and then market forces is also responsible for the change.”

The spokesman for Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa noted that widespread clamour over fares last year made the airline reconsider its prices.

He said, “It is the law of demand and supply that applies in the aviation industry. It is not as if the fares went up. Like I told you before it is a progressive fare regime and depends on when you book.

“Also, the fares have always been low, we also looked at the clamour for the prices to come down and we decided to balance it up. The rule still remains; when your book matters a whole lot.

Ezenwa advised air passengers to plan their trip and book early enough. He noted that nothing has changed. He also added that aircraft for the airline was back on all their routes, adding that load factor was 70 per cent and never dropped.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, air passengers paid more for specified routes on a single journey, month-on-month and year-on-year in November.

The average fare paid by travelers increased by 0.13 per cent month-on-month and by 18.47 per cent year-on-year to N36,301.74 in November 2020 from N36,256.08 in October.

These are according to the Transport Fare Watch data for November provided by the statistics office.

Similarly, air travelers were prevented from paying VAT in their commercial flight tickets, effective January 1, 2021, by the Federal Government.

A tweet by the Head of Tax, PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele on January 6, 2021, said the VAT removal part of the dictates of the 2020 Finance Act. The tax expert argued that this new development should see airfares decrease.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association has expressed worries with a drop in global passenger traffic growth as well as African airlines’ whose traffic sank 76.7 per cent in November, from a 77.2 per cent drop in October.

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