Nigeria is today faced with a situation in which an increasing percentage of her population are being alienated from the air transport sector, at a time when it has become obvious that the only functioning and affordable means of transport – Road Transport – is been overstretched. Rising airfare, resulting from debilitating factors such as shortfalls in the supply and rising cost of aviation fuel, the under-performance of players in the industry and the suspension of operational license and grounding of unfit aircrafts of some others due to safety concerns have greatly reduced the number of operational aircraft in the fleet. These and other factors have contributed in raising fares beyond the reach of many Nigerians.
“We believe that the N60,000 air fare from Lagos to Abuja and back remains beyond many Nigerians who rather choose to travel by road and pay about N10,000 only for the same journey”. – pmnewsnigeria
Though It is reported by resourcedat.com that Nigeria’s air traffic rose considerably in 2009 through to 2011, air traffic passengers dropped from 14.9m recorded in 2011 to 14.3m in 2012 showing a decline of 0.6m. The highest figure understandably came from both domestic and international terminals of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
Recently, Nigerian airlines are embarking on promotional activities meant to bring back fleeing passengers. But air travelers seem unconvinced as many of them continue to hit the roads and snub airlines whose prices continue to hit the roof and their services remain poor.
Against this backdrop, it has been revealed that most domestic airline operators in Nigeria have reduced their fares in order to win back passengers. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the move was to encourage travelers who could not afford the high fares. For example,Arik Air, which sold its one-way ticket last week for between N30,000 and N40,000 to any destination in the country from Abuja, has reduced it to between N30,00 and N35,000 for economy class and N45,000 for business class. Aero Contractors tickets, which were sold for N28,000 economy and N50,000 business class from Abuja, have dropped to N21,400 and N49,000 respectively, while IRS charges between N22,000 and N25,000 for economy and N50,000 for business flyers. Med-View, a new airline which started operation last week, charges between N15,000 and N19,000 for economy ticket and N49,000 on business class from Abuja to Lagos.
The effectiveness of these strategies remains to be seen in the light of rising competition from other sub-sectors. Road transport now offer their passengers a closely competitive transit comfort air travels offer. Air-conditioner vehicles and in-transit services and conveniences are now common with many of the major operators, thereby reducing the wide gap between the quality of air transport and road transport hitherto existent to only few issues such as time expended in transit. Therefore, any passenger who is not pressed for time would prefer to pay something far lower to travel within and even without Nigeria (to Ghana, Benin Republic and Togo) using road transport. More so, in this era of smartphones and personal gadgets, one is hardly conscious of time spent.