DOMESTIC air fares paid by passengers on specified routes for a single journey within Nigeria have risen by 52% over the past 12 months according to recent data published the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
In a new report titled Transport Fare Watch, the NBS said airfares recorded a 19% increase when gauged on a month-on-month basis. On state profile analysis, Taraba recorded the highest air transport charges for specified routes single journey in April 2022 with N65,000, followed by Kogi with N64,258, while Kano recorded the least with N50,000.
Analysis by zone also showed that the north-central geo-political zone recorded the highest airfare in April with N57,552.54, followed by the northeast with N56,800, while the southeast had the least with N53,402. This significant hike in airfares, according to findings, is not unconnected to the recent challenges faced by local airlines, ranging from energy price hikes to lack of access to foreign exchange.
Ewos Iroro, a spokesman for the Airline Operators of Nigeria, the umbrella body for local carriers, described the factors behind the increase of airfares as obvious concerns which the operators had clamoured about over the past few months. He added that the onus of relieving the sector of the bottlenecks affecting the operations of the airlines is a responsibility the government should take more seriously.
Mr Iroro said: “We know what has been happening in the sector in the last few months, the price of jet fuel has gone up and there are so many factors. All the factors are already out there but airlines don’t determine most of the factors as they are just operating within the system.”
Captain Roland Iyayi, the chief executive of TopBrass Aviation, also blamed the inability of the government to solve certain fundamental challenges as the reason behind the spike in airfares in the last one year. He added that energy costs constitute about 50% of airlines operating cost, which he said would invariably give rise to a corresponding hike in airfares.
“I think the solution is actually in the hands of the government because if for instance, our refineries were working, the cost of fuel would have been lower than what it is today. Fuel, for airlines constitute about 50% of their direct operating costs so, if you take that fuel increased from N150 to about N700, that’s about 400% increase but nobody is talking about that.
“If fuel increased by 400% and airfares increased by 52%, and fuel comprises 50% of the direct operating cost of an airline’s cost of production, then there is something very significantly wrong. I would assume that based on those numbers, airlines may not even be breaking even.”
Professor Emeka Osuji of the Pan-Atlantic University, described the hike as inevitable considering recent events in the aviation sector and the attendant economic consequences of these events. He said the economy had been badly managed and decried Nigeria’s continued inability to refine fuel for local consumption.
He said: “When aviation fuel goes up like it has done, you have to expect an increase and the politicians have taken all the dollars for their political activities. Everything about an aircraft is dollarised, now the dollar has gone up to N600 and when that happens you don’t need anybody to tell you what it will give rise to.”
According to Professor Osuji, much of the energy crisis that has led to increased cost of production would have been tackled if the government had been alive to its responsibilities. At the moment, there is a chronic scarcity of aviation fuel in the Nigerian market due to the fact that there is no domestic production.