By John Ikani
Some domestic airline managers on Wednesday asserted that the recent hike in airfares was long overdue.
The officers who made the assertion to journalists in Abuja, said some charges to be paid by the airlines had skyrocketed, while most maintenance services were paid with foreign exchange.
Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Mahmoud Abdullahi, maintained that the fuel price had kept increasing, with some service providers increasing their tariff by more than 250 per cent.
“The airline fare hike is long overdue, as you are aware of the increase in fuel price and forex.
“Additionally, recently, the service providers, SAHCOL and NAHCO, increased their tariff by 250-300 per cent; at the international airport it is even a 500 per cent increase,” he said.
General Manager of Azman Air, Suleiman Lawan said that it had reached a time when the airfares could no longer remain the same as before.
He stated that the tickets started from N27, 500 up to N35, 000, before reaching about N50, 000 now.
“Every day you have to plan for importing spare parts, which are in US dollars and you cannot get such money from the government; it’s only from the parallel market. Also, A-jet fuel is at a higher price.
“Apart from that, they have so many responsibilities to handle, including payments of salaries, aircraft checks out of Nigeria, for which they have to get the money from the same parallel market,“ he said.
Also, the Executive Director, Max Air, Harish Manwani, said that the airlines ought to increase the fare in order to cope with the daily expenses of sustaining their operations.
In his submission, an Aviation Expert, John Ojikutu, urged the public and the responsible authorities to have an interest in the sustenance of airlines operations.
Mr Ojikutu said he had expected the hike in the airfare about 10 years ago.
“Aviation fuel was being refined in the country around 1999, whereas for well over 10 years, we have been importing fuel.
“Naira exchange has grown steadily from N180 to N360, N400, and now over N500 to a dollar and our airlines are still selling tickets at N26,000 or rear cases N30,000 even when we are importing fuel,“ he said.
Some air travellers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), who also spoke with journalists, appealed to the Nigerian Government to intervene in the airfare increases.