Nigerians still groan under foreign airlines high fares

By Lawani Mikairu
Despite fall in the price of crude oil which consequently led to the fall of the price of aviation fuel in the international market, foreign airlines who have always used the high cost of aviation fuel in Nigeria as excuse to charge high fares, continue to charge Nigerians going to Europe, or any destination, astronomical fares compared to what these same airlines charge travelers in other parts of the world.

Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport, Abuja

What reasons do the foreign airlines have for these arbitrary charges? One of the reasons given by the representatives and spokespersons of these foreign airlines when interviewed by Saturday was that the operating environment in Nigeria is very harsh and this is making them take some harsh decisions.

German carrier, Lufthansa Airlines, Air France, Dutch carrier, KLM, Turkish Airways, British Airways, amongst others, are all guilty of charging astronomical fares. Nigerians have been wondering why a Nigerian travelling from either Lagos or Abuja to London pay more for travelling for less number of hours of flight than a Ghanaian flying for more hours to the same destination, for example, London, Heathrow.

Saturday discovered that , for instance, a Nigerian travelling in the First Class cabin of British Airways is made to pay between “ $9,285 and $10,070 to fly 5001km in 5hrs 55mins into Heathrow, depending on the season, as there are high and low seasons, the Ghanaian pays less than half of that, about $4,943 to fly 5,096.79km in 6hrs 55mins. Aviation fuel plays a key role here and it is simple mathematics that the aircraft would burn more fuel flying longer hours”.

“Similarly, the Nigerian traveller from Lagos or Abuja to London pays about $7,367 to fly the Club Class cabin Virgin Atlantic Airways, as there is no First Class cabin in the airline, but the Ghanaian pays $4,136 for same journey in the same class cabin”. This unequal fare regime is not limited to British carriers; other European airlines are guilty of the same practice.

Nigeria, other African countries most expensive places for airline business – IATA

 

 

 

Flying from Lagos to Frankfurt in the First Class cabin of Lufthansa Airlines, the Nigerian traveller pays “between $8,195 and $9,350, depending on the season, while those travelling from Accra to the same destination pay $4,719. The same thing applies to KLM/Air France Club Class cabin which attracts between $5,146 and $7,036 for the Nigerian and between $3,189 and $5,271 for the Ghanaian traveller, also depending on the season”.

Passengers pay more during the high season when passenger volume is high (Christmas season) and less when the volume is low . This scenario is the same on routes outside West Africa and the continent. For instance, Nigerians pay more on British Airways First Class cabin flight from Lagos to London Heathrow which is 5hrs 55mins flight than an American will pay from Boston, USA to Heathrow airport, UK which is 7hrs 30mins. So also is from New York, USA to Heathrow, UK which is 7hrs 30 mins.

A survey of all the major Nigerian routes flown by the foreign airlines in the country showed that the cost of return tickets had been increased by between 80 per cent and 120 per cent of the previous fares, depending on the carrier, time of booking and the passengers volume.

Most of the representatives and spokespersons of these foreign airlines refused to have their names in print as they claimed that airfares and operational polices are determined at their various headquarters abroad and they have to seek clearance from their head offices to make statements on policy matters.

However, they complained that there are almost 37 sundry charges levied at airports in Nigeria. Among the charges levied on airlines in Nigeria are: “the Cargo Sales Charge, five per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), Passenger Service Charge of N1000 per ticket on local route, Charter Sales Charge, Aircraft Inspection Fees, Simulator Inspection Fees, Landing Charges, Parking Charges and Terminal Navigational Charge. Others are Enroute Charge, Fuel Surcharge, Airport Space Rent, Electricity charges, Apron Pass, ODC, Registration Fee, Service Recovery Charge, Processing Fee, Avio Bridge, Aircraft Registration and Processing Fee”.

The airlines also pay “Toll Gate Fee, VIP Lounge, Trolley Service, Clearance Fee, Check-In Counter Charge, Courier/Tarmac/Pre-Release charges, Import Charge (Dom), Export Charge (Dom), Import Royalty, Export Royalty, Ports Charge, Exports Charge, Transhipment, and Concession Fee”.

What is not clear is if money from all these charges are remitted to government coffer. The then Aviation minister under President Jonathan government, Princess Stella Oduah, while trying to address this problem had issued a 30-day ultimatum to all foreign airlines operating in the country to dismantle their fare disparity or face a ban. But diplomatic interventions prevented this threat from been carried out.

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