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Dollar Scarcity: Airlines Raise Fares by 100%

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Airlines in Nigeria

The lingering foreign exchange scarcity, which has made it difficult for foreign airlines to repatriate their ticket sales proceeds for several months, has forced the carriers to increase their fares by about 100 per cent, OLAWUNMI OJO writes

Foreign exchange risk is now a major component of airfares on Nigerian routes, the country managers of top foreign airlines have revealed.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the airlines operating on international routes in the country had increased airfares by as much as 100 per cent as a result of the development, Punch reported.

A survey of all the major Nigerian routes flown by the foreign airlines in the country showed that the cost of return tickets had been increased by between 80 per cent and 120 per cent of the previous fares, depending on the carrier, time of booking and the season.

The survey cuts across Nigeria-North America routes, Nigeria-South Africa route, and Nigeria-Europe routes. Airfares on the Lagos-London, Abuja-London, Lagos-New York, Lagos-Atlanta, Lagos-Houston, and Lagos-Johannesburg routes were examined.

Findings also showed that local airlines operating international flights, especially Arik Air and MedView Airlines, had increased their airfares.

For instance, airfares on the Lagos-London and Abuja-London routes now cost an average of N380,000 for the economy class seat, as against the average of N200,000 a year ago on the British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways. This represents an increase of 111 per cent.

Similarly, on Air France, an economic ticket on the Lagos/Abuja-London routes now goes for about N360,000, while Lufthansa German Airlines charges N380,000. These represent an increase of 80 per cent and 90 per cent, respectively, when compared with an average fare of N200,000 on the routes a year ago.

A Business Class ticket now goes for as high as N3m as against the N1.5m a year ago on the Lagos-London route.

On the Lagos-Atlanta and Lagos-Houston routes, Delta Airlines and United Airlines, which used to fly Economy Class passengers for between N270,000 and N330,000 some 12 months ago, now render the same service at an average fare of N600,000, depending on the time of booking. This represents an increase of about 100 per cent.

South Africa Airways and Arik Air, which used to fly the Lagos-Johannesburg routes for between N100,000 and N120,000 for the economy class, now fly the route for between N180,000 and N220,000, depending on the time of booking and the season.

The Lagos-Paris route, which used to go for N180,000 on the average, now goes for around N400,000. This represents an increase of 120 per cent.

Operators link the increment in fares to the scarcity of foreign exchange to attend to the operational needs of the carriers and the erosion in the value of the ticket sales proceeds, which are now stuck in banks due to lack of forex to repatriate the funds.

Late last year, the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had unveiled a fiscal policy, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, restricting access to foreign exchange and funds transfer out of the country.

While this has had advantages for some sectors of the economy, foreign airline operators have complained of their inability to repatriate revenue to their operational bases as a result of the new policy.

An official of one the airlines told our correspondent that the carrier had close to N90bn as accumulated earnings in banks, which it had been unable to repatriate.

He said that the airline industry relied heavily on cash to meet its commitments, adding that it was sad that the government was not seeing things this way.

With huge airline revenue in the vaults of the banks, some of the operators nursed fears of being exposed to risks should the pressure on the naira lead to the devaluation of the currency, which could erode the value of the funds by about 35 per cent to 45 per cent.

Following the difficulty in repatriating earnings from Nigeria, some of the airlines initially began restricting cheap fares on the Nigerian routes in the last quarter of last year, leading to an indirect hike in fares.

At the time, the effect was felt more on second tier routes from Lagos-London-Atlanta, Lagos-London-New York, Lagos-London-Miami, Lagos-London-São Paulo, Lagos-London-Houston; or Lagos-Frankfurt-New York, Lagos-Frankfurt-Chicago, Lagos-Frankfurt-Los Angeles, and Lagos-Frankfurt-Shanghai.

Citing Nigeria’s slowing economy amid forex scarcity, some international airlines are now contemplating reducing flights to the country or operating smaller capacity aircraft as a short-term measure.

However, following complaints by the airlines, representatives of the International Air Transport Association are said to have pleaded with the CBN Governor, Godwin Emiefele, to intervene in the matter and make dollars available to them.

But the move has yet to yield any positive results.

The foreign airlines also reportedly met with the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, and urged him to look into their case.

A spokesperson for one of the airlines noted that the difficulty in repatriating revenues was affecting aircraft leases and fuelling, stating that the earnings were partly being used for fuel and renewing aircraft leases.

While the situation persists, the effect on air travellers and other businesses that depend so much on air travel has been immense.

A manager with a transport and logistic firm, Mr. Emmanuel Iruobe , said the company had incurred more costs than were provided for in the execution of most contracts this year.

Iruobe urged the government to look into the situation with a view to resolving it in the interest of Nigerians.

On their part, stakeholders in the travel industry under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies have faulted the astronomical cost of air tickets by the airlines, especially the foreign carriers.

Describing the situation where taxes that go to the airlines are higher than base fares as unacceptable, the group has petitioned the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Aviation, to caution the foreign airlines over the alleged sharp practices.

The Publicity Secretary, NANTA, Mrs. Ngozi Ngoka, opined that the cumulative effect of taxes and surcharges by airlines also generated a final price to the passenger that could be as much as double the advertised airfare for a short-haul flight.

Another stakeholder, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Gadshire Travels, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, berated the airlines, describing the excuse of forex scarcity and multiple taxes given to increase fares as untenable.

According to him, the arbitrary increment and gap between what is charged in Nigeria and other African countries on the same routes are due to the failure of regulatory authorities to perform their duties.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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JUST IN: Abuja to Kaduna Train Service to Resume by December 5

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Lagos-Ibadan Train Services - Investors King

The Federal Government has announced that services along the Abuja–Kaduna rail corridor would resume on Monday, December 5, 2022.

This was disclosed by the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria. 

While speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday, Okhiria noted that all is now set to open the train corridor to passengers. 

He, therefore, advised passengers wishing to utilise the service to commence updating their mobile app from December 3, to enable them to successfully book the ride. 

Investors King earlier reported that the resumption of the Abuja to Kaduna train service will commence last Monday. The resumption was however postponed due to ongoing security work on the trail track as well as coaches. 

It could be recalled that the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo stated during the test run of the train on Sunday that Nigerians without a National Identification Number would not be allowed to board the train.

The Minister added that the government is doing everything to stop a re-occurrence of the event that happened early this year when terrorists attacked Abuja to Kaduna. 

An event that led to the death of no less than nine people while several others were kidnapped. 

Speaking further on the new development, the NRC boss noted that the services will commence with two train rides from Abuja-Kaduna and vice-versa.

Given the train schedule, Okhiria stated that “AK 1 will depart Idu Station at 9:45 am and arrive at Rigasa Station at 11:53 am.

“KA 2 will depart Rigasa at 8:00am and arrive at Idu station at 10:17am.

“AK 3 will depart Idu Station at 3:30pm and arrive at Rigasa Station at 5:38pm.

He added that “KA 4 will depart Rigasa at 2pm and arrive at Idu Station at 4:07pm.

Okhiria noted that the federal government will continue to do all it can to protect both lives and properties on board its train at all times.

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Dominic Pizza Partners 9mobile on Food Service Delivery

The mother brand of Domino Pizza, Eat’N’Go Africa noted that the partnership is a demonstration of the company’s commitment to better serve the Nigerian market.

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Dominos Pizza

Quick Service Restaurant (QSR), Domino Pizza has partnered with mobile telecommunication provider, 9mobile to improve its food service delivery.

The mother brand of Domino Pizza, Eat’N’Go Africa noted that the partnership is a demonstration of the company’s commitment to better serve the Nigerian market.

According to a statement released by the company, the partnership is aimed to increase customer satisfaction and provide quick service delivery to both individuals and retail offices.

Investors King learnt that customers can now easily and swiftly order domino pizza through the newly launched dedicated call center. 

The statement added that the Call Centre service was currently active in all Domino’s branches in Lagos State, with plans underway to activate it in other locations in Nigeria and would provide multi-lingual services.

Speaking at the event, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Eat’N’Go Africa, Mr. Patrick McMichael noted that customers’ orders will henceforth be delivered as much faster as possible. He added that the core responsibility of the company is to attain customer satisfaction through its products and service delivery. 

“As an organization, Eat’N’Go is committed to always being at the forefront of customer satisfaction and by adapting to innovative ways we will keep improving on our service delivery which the call centre avails us,” he said. 

Similarly, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of 9mobile, Juergen Peschel who was present at the event expressed delight and confidence in the prospect of the new partnership. 

He noted that with the new partnership, Eat’N’Go will be able to revolutionise delivery. 

The CEO affirmed that the collaboration shows the extent to which technology can be deployed to ease the way business is done.

Meanwhile, Eat’N’Go Africa is the mother company of a number of trademark products which include Domino Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, and Pinkberry Gourmet Frozen Yoghurt brands. It is one of the leading Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) in Nigeria. 

The company currently has more than 190 outlets across the country with the goal to reach 250 outlets in 2023. 

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Aero Contractors to Resume Operations After Four Months of Suspension

Aero Contractors called off suspension, to resume operations in the first week of December

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Aero Contractors Airlines

Aero Contractors has disclosed plans to resume flight operations on the 5th of December 2022. The resumption is coming after more than four months of suspension owing to a lack of equipment capacity, foreign exchange scarcity, and other industry challenges.

Investors King could recall that in July 2022, Aero Contractors which is one of the oldest domestic airlines operating in Nigeria announced a voluntary withdrawal of service due to the numerous challenges facing the airline and the industry in general. 

“Due to the impact of the challenging operating environment on our daily operations, the management of Aero Contractors Company of Nig. Ltd. wishes to announce the temporary suspension of its scheduled passenger service operations with effect from Wednesday, July 20, 2022,” a statement issued by the airline in July partly read. 

The airline added that some of its aircraft were undergoing maintenance which made it a more complex situation to cope with the current reality in the aviation industry.

It highlights the high cost of maintenance, fuel, inflation, and forex scarcity resulting in high foreign exchange rates as some of the prevailing challenges which culminated in the suspension of service.

According to sources that are familiar with the new development, flight operations will resume with the Lagos to Abuja route while a check on the airline website showcases a confirmation. 

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has cleared Aero Contractors to resume flight operations. 

The Director General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu confirms the resumption during a discussion he had with journalists earlier today. 

The DG clarified that the airline was not grounded and that it never had safety issues. Rather, he said the airline was faced with financial challenges which, if not quickly nipped in the bud, may degenerate into safety issues.

“Aero Contractors was not grounded based on safety issues. We did an audit of them…and we found out that the issue they had was financial sustainability,” Capt Nuhu noted.

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