Flight ticket raise inevitable to avert shutdown of operations – Okonkwo, United Nigeria boss
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), has said the recent increase in flight tickets cost became inevitable to cushion rising aviation fuel price and to prevent airlines from total collapse, ANAMBRA PEOPLE reports.
Speaking on South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) recently, the spokesperson of AON, Mr Obiora Okonkwo, said despite the high cost and scarcity of aviation fuel, airlines have tried over time to absorb the impact and insulate passengers from bearing the cost.
He however said that airline operators have been bleeding and that it became inevitable for them to increase the cost of ticket to be able to make ends meet.
“We have been as patriotic as we could to ensure that this shocking increase in cost of fuel does not impact immediately on the traveling public, so, for some months now, operators have been bleeding and absorbing the increase in prices.
“As it is now, for us to be sustainable and operational, it became inevitable that we had to make some adjustment in our ticket cost because this ticket cost is from where so many stakeholders in the industry get their cut, like the NCAA, airport authorities and so many others. The cost of fuel has been eating up all our operational funds and reserves.
“We are trying to absorb the shock as much as we can and insulate our passengers but we have to remain in business because they would not want to see us come down this is why in the last week, there has been some adjustment to see how we can come out of this,” he said.
Also speaking on what the government and stakeholders are doing to reduce flight disruptions, Obiora said: “The airline operators are working round the clock to lay our hands on any available fuel in any airport to ensure that the passengers are carried to their destinations. For instance, we operated for up to 2 AM some days ago for flights that would have ended by 8PM due to some sunset airports.
“The world is experiencing energy crisis, so, it is not peculiar to Nigeria. So, we are not insulated from this issue. For us here in Nigeria, we are very patient and we hope that the impact would not be for too long. The only thing is that Nigeria imports its own fuel in finished form and if there are any logistics issues, this would have direct and immediate effect.”
“We understand the importance of this sector in our own economic development and we appreciate the concern and correction that we are getting from all the different stakeholders and agencies. We are hoping that in the next few days, this would be over and we working hard and cooperating with the Federal Government to make all the sacrifices to make sure that disruptions are not unbearable and they don’t last for too long.
Domestic airlines have increased the cost of air fare from N50,000 to N75,000 for economy seats and N130,000 for business class due to the scarcity and increase in cost of Jet A1, also known as aviation fuel to N800 per litre.
Domestic operators have complained how fuel cost consumes over 60 percent of operation costs and findings reveal that airlines like Air Peace spend over N100 million daily on fuel due to its large fleet, while Dana Air was spending over N50 million.
A look at the websites of the airlines show that to book economy seats on Air peace for a 6.30am flight from Abuja to Lagos cost N75,000, while a passenger can only access a N65,000 ticket from 9pm.
For Arik Air website, 6.30pm flight for an economy seat from Lagos to Abuja, cost N93, 452, while a business class ticket for the same time and destination cost N132, 976.
On Azman Air, an economy flight ticket from Abuja to Kano for 2pm, cost N94, 835, while a flight for 6pm on the same day, cost N75,000. For Max Air, flights from Abuja to Lagos from 2pm, cost N75, 000 for economy seat and same for United Nigeria airlines.