AIRFARES on Nigerian domestic and international routes look set to rise dramatically when the government opens the country’s airspace shortly after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (Faan) announced that it will be increasing service charges by up to 100%.
Like most other countries, Nigeria suspended all flights when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, closing all of her airports and suspending all aviation activities. With the gradual easing of the lockdown now taking place, several nations have resumed flights but Nigeria is yet to open up her airspace.
Virgin Atlantic has already announced that it intends resuming operations on its lucrative Lagos to London route on August 24, indicating that Nigeria will open up its airports by then. Other airlines have begun running test flights across Nigeria in anticipation of the opening of the country’s airspace and airports.
As from August 1, Faan plans to increase the passenger service charges (PSC) on domestic flight tickets by 100% from the current rate of N1,000 to N2,000. Faan is also planning to hike the PSC on international flights to $100 from $50, with both charges expected to be passed on to passengers.
Faan managing director, Rabiu Yadudu, has already written to all the airlines operating in Nigeria explained that the changes were introduced to improve and upgrade airports infrastructure across the country, among others. He said while the authority had notified the aviation minister, it had engaged the regulator of the sector and other operators several times about its intention to hike PSCs.
According to the Faan boss, the last PSC reviews were done on May 1, 2011 and March 21, 2011, for domestic and international flight operations respectively. He noted that in 2011, domestic PSC was increased to N1,000 from N350, while that of international flights was raised to $50 from $35.
Mr Yadudu said: “This does not correlate with the prevailing economic situation and the index to meet the needs of today and future growth in passenger traffic by Faan and airport development, most especially for the airport upgrade to post-Covid-19 standards.”
He explained that Bi-Courtney Aviation Services, the operators of the Murtala Mohammed Airport domestic terminal, had for years been charging N2,500 as its PSC. Mr Yadudu argued that an increase in PSCs would afford the authority the needed funds to upgrade its facilities to accommodate new airlines, including the anticipated national carrier.
Captain Ado Sanusi, the chief executive of Aero Contractors, said the charge would be included in ticket costs on domestic and international flights. He added: “There has been discussions about this pre-Covid-19, however, the matter is simple.
“This money is not for airlines, rather passengers will pay it. We the airlines will just pass it to the passengers as the name suggests.”
On whether this would not add to the financial burden of passengers considering the negative effect of Covid-19 on incomes, Captain Sanusi said Faan should compensate passengers by improving its services. However, Kingsley Nwokeoma, the president of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, kicked against the development.