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Surge in Nigeria-London flight indefensible

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By Timothy Akintola

Foreign airlines must reduce ticket cost price or their frequencies.

The economic dilapidation that has ravaged Nigeria’s living standards has led to an outrageous increase in prices of virtually all rendered services. The current recession has witnessed the flight prices of both local and international airlines skyrocket. While local airlines have increased their fares by nearly 100 percent, international flight fares have risen by about 282 percent as a result of the foreign exchange, blocked foreign airline funds amongst other economic problems that have pushed the ticket prices high.

However, recent reports suggest that foreign airlines coming into Nigeria might have to reduce their frequencies overtime, if there is no sign of reduction in cost of tickets. This is after the surge in airline prices and the current problem of reciprocating the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), with Nigeria. Reports indicate that these foreign airlines, in response to their concerns in the repatriation of over $464 million that has been entrapped in the country also added to the increase in airline fares.

Easy landing opportunities must be granted to Nigerian airlines.

Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor responding to this recent development, noted that the home government of these international airlines flying into Nigeria must reciprocate by also granting landing opportunities to Nigerian airlines as a measure for regulating the pressures of the foreign exchange. He stated that in cases like this, the Nigerian airlines would have no need for using foreign exchange to accrue tickets. He also disclosed that BASA never made it a necessity for the Central Bank to provide foreign exchange for repatriation of the foreign airlines’ income, urging them to obtain it from the ‘Exporters and Importers’ window.

However, in a meeting scheduled by Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives with the aviation stakeholders which included domestic and international operators, Allen Onyema, the chairman of Air Peace recommended that the foreign airlines reduce their operation frequencies on their own. He condemned the operations of the foreign airlines which compounds the problems of the country, stating that it was ridiculous and indefensible to have to pay N2.3 million for a 6-hour flight.

Air Peace struggled to get a land permit at Heathrow Airport during Covid.

Onyema, while disagreeing about the trapped funds being the catalyst for the huge disparity in the cost of the flight ticket, noted that during the Covid evacuation period, Air Peace struggled to get a permit to land into Heathrow Airport to help Nigerians evacuate. He stated that while Air Peace fixed its fare at N400,000, other airlines coming from the same location fixed their prices for about 2000 pounds each from Nigerians. He said that Air Peace was horribly treated, even at the expense of their safety. He disclosed that dogs were used to inspect their pilots and they were stopped from doing the walk-around on the aircraft, all in a bid to discourage them from carrying on with this operation.

He further explained that after their 6-hour flight to London, they were still restricted from inspecting the plane to notice any compromise and it took the intervention of the National Union Aviation Authority to petition the International Civil Aviation Organization. Onyema said it was more ridiculous that the fare for a South African-London trip which lasts 9 hours is less expensive than Nigeria’s 6-hour flight. However, it was noted that as Nigerians, we must learn to love our country.

Nigeria must stop paying ridiculous prices for Intl. airline services.

Onyema said that procuring solutions to this problem, so that these foreign airlines do not exploit Nigeria should be a priority and urged for Nigerian airlines be granted access to these international countries too. He stated that the stigmatization should not continue, even if it means his airline bearing the brunt for speaking up. He also said that these foreign airlines’ idea with their frequency increases was to snuff life out of indigenous airlines. He then added that while he supports these foreign carriers getting their money, Nigeria must not continue to pay ridiculous costs for the service.

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