Airfares on international routes have skyrocketed as air travellers from Nigeria lament the increasing difficulty on international travels and Visa fees.
The CBN flexible forex policy has led to a 70-100 per cent increase in airfares and the consequence is a huge reduction in travellers, as most people cannot afford the fares.
Visa fees have also risen. The United Kingdom six month visa fee has risen to N71,000 from between N38,000 and N41,000. The US visa fee has also jumped from N31,520 in early June to N48,000, reports the New Telegraph.
Depreciation of local currency against the United States dollars and the rush for summer holiday are two factors attributable to the current airfare hike.
When the naira was pegged at $1 to N197, airline fares which are quoted in US dollars, had Nigerians pay the equivalent in naira.
But after the introduction of the flexible forex policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the payment is now calculated at an exchange rate of N285.
Nigerian carriers that ply Lagos-London are not also affordable as they charge relatively the same fares as the foreign airlines.
For a return flight from Lagos to New York, fares go between N600,000 and N700,000 on economy class seats with business class tickets going for nearly N2 million. However, Emirates and Ethiopian Airways still provide ‘cheaper fares’, compared to many other airlines.
Also, investigations show that the average return ticket on economy class for Lagos-London route has risen to between N553,200 and N600,000 from between N280,000 and N355,000.
For business class tickets on legacy carriers like British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, the fares are in the range of N2.5 million and above compared to last year which went for between N1.2 million and N1.5 million. For First Class ticket, most of the airlines offered N3.2 million, N3.5 million and N3.8 million per passenger.
United States’ airline, Delta, Economy class return ticket go for between N700, 000 and N800, 000 while Business Class return ticket is between N3 million and N4 million.
For a return flight from Lagos to Amsterdam and Lagos to Paris, fares go between N400,000 and above on economy class seats from the initial N260,000, while the business class tickets go for N2.1 million.
Airline operators are therefore calling on government to provide easy access to foreign exchange for local airlines, adding that Nigeria is the only country that still charges VAT on leisure travel, which makes airfares to be expensive.
They also request government to give the airlines tax holiday, stressing that the $50 international travellers from Nigeria pay that goes to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should be done in naira at an agreed rate.