The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has stated that the hike in airfares was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Director-General of the NCAA, Musa Nuhu, made the disclosure at the presidential taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Thursday. He said the aviation industry suffered huge setbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also cited the rising exchange rate as also being responsible for the high airfares given the increase in maintenance cost.
“As regards ticket prices, yes ticket prices have gone up astronomically over the last week or so. That is one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“The aviation, tourism and travel industry is one of the most devastating industries by COVID-19. Because, we had a short down for several months, the airlines were not making money and there are fixed cost that they have to deal with, they have to maintain the aircraft and unfortunately most of these aircraft are maintained outside the country.
“Two issues we have had, because of the short down they don’t even have slots to take their aircraft out and the dollar rate has gone up and they need to raise enough money.
“So the problem basically is that of supply and demand. The supply for airline seats internationally have significantly gone down while the demand domestically since we opened have gone up. So it’s simple basic economics 101, when the demand exceeds supply, the prices go up.”
He also spoke on the 300 sacked Arik Air employees, stating that talks are ongoing to avoid job loss.
Some domestic airline operators at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja linked the rise in the cost of flight tickets to the exchange rate.
Kehinde Ogunyale, Max Air station manager, said: “We need to catch up with the economy. That is why we increase the fare. If not, we may be left behind and will not be able to fund operations anymore”.
“The fare actually went up. From Abuja to Lagos last week, the highest fare was N35,300 (economy class) and N80,000 (business class). From Abuja to Lagos at present, the highest fare is N60,000 (economy class) and N98,000 (business class).”