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Nigerians Forced to Suspend Travel Plans as Soaring Airfare Prices Test Budgets

Nigerian Travelers Seek Alternatives Within Africa as Soaring Airfare Prices Deter International Travel Plans



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Nigerians have been compelled to put their travel aspirations to the United States and Europe on hold due to a significant surge in airfare prices, which have tripled as a consequence of the exorbitant exchange rates for ticket pricing.

Investors King‘s investigations reveal that economy class tickets from Lagos to London, France, and most European countries, which cost approximately N1.5 million a month ago, now range from N1.9 million to N2.2 million, depending on the airline.

For example, a Lagos to France economy class ticket on British Airways, priced at $2,500, converts to about N1.92 million using the N770 exchange rate to the dollar.

A Lagos to London economy class ticket on British Airways costs around $2,800, amounting to about N2.15 million.

Meanwhile, a Lagos to London economy class ticket on Qatar Airways is approximately $2,900, totaling about N2.23 million.

Similarly, an economy class ticket from Lagos to the United States, which previously cost about N1.7 million, is now priced between N2.2 million and N2.6 million.

A Delta Airlines economy class ticket from Lagos to the United States costs about N2.4 million, while the same ticket on Lufthansa and Qatar Airways is approximately N2.6 million.

The cost of business class tickets from Lagos to London, France, and most European countries, which previously averaged around N2 million, has risen significantly to an average of N2.9 million to N3.4 million.

A business class ticket from Lagos to London on Lufthansa Airline now costs about N2.9 million, while on Qatar Airways, it amounts to approximately N3.4 million.

Conversely, a business class ticket from Lagos to the United States, which used to cost an average of N2.4 million, has skyrocketed to about N4.9 million on Qatar Airways and a staggering N6.9 million on Ethiopian Airlines. Air Maroc currently offers the most affordable option on this route, with tickets priced at around N2.4 million.

The sharp rise in airfare prices from Nigeria to various destinations can be attributed to the escalating exchange rate for ticket pricing, which has surpassed N760/$.

This development follows the recent decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to float the naira and instruct commercial banks to sell foreign exchange at market-determined rates, collapsing all forex windows into the Investors & Exporters Window.

Since then, the exchange rate has fluctuated on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) platform, increasing from 663.04/$ to the current rate of N770/$.

Nigerian travelers have been quick to respond to these price hikes by suspending their travel plans to Europe and the United States. Many express their frustration and concern about the unprecedented cost of airfares.

Philip Onuh, a dismayed traveler, laments, “Never have tickets been sold so expensively in Nigeria before. How can I buy a Lagos to London ticket for over N2 million? This is more than just a rise. It is exorbitant, and I’m sure the average traveler can’t afford this at this time when we have an economic downturn.”

John Effiong shares a similar sentiment. He had planned to travel to France with his family during his annual leave in two months but had to cancel the plans due to the unaffordable airfare costs. Instead, he now considers Egypt as an alternative due to significantly lower travel expenses and flexible visa policies.

While foreign airlines initially restricted low-cost ticket inventories, gradually releasing them as the Central Bank of Nigeria released their trapped funds, high-priced ticket inventories remain predominant on websites, leading to inflated ticket prices.

Susan Akporiaye, President of the National Association of Travel Agents of Nigeria (NANTA), acknowledges that the reduction in summer travels began with the inventory restrictions on airline websites. She further explains that the new exchange rate policy has exacerbated the situation, impacting not only individual travelers but also corporate travel plans.

Akporiaye emphasizes the need for airlines to release lower fares to alleviate the burden on passengers. She suggests that if lower fares are made available, individuals would be able to secure tickets for as low as N700,000.

Furthermore, Akporiaye observes that the travel agency community, which used to rely on corporate clients, is also experiencing cancellations due to the exorbitant ticket costs. Consequently, Nigerian travelers are now turning their attention to exploring alternative destinations within Africa.

Countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Botswana, and Rwanda are gaining popularity among Nigerian travelers. Egypt, in particular, has introduced new innovations in its visa policy, offering visa-on-arrival for individuals holding Schengen, UK, US, or Canada visas, thereby facilitating easier access for Nigerian visitors.

Despite these alternatives, the Nigerian travel industry faces significant challenges as the high ticket prices and unified exchange rate policy continue to impede travel plans for both individuals and corporations.

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Nigeria Holds $783 Million in Blocked Funds, IATA Engages with Government for Resolution




The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that as of August Nigeria holds approximately $783 million in blocked funds belonging to various airlines.

This significant financial concern was communicated via an official statement released by the trade association.

Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, has been actively engaged in discussions with the Federal Government in an effort to find a resolution to this pressing issue.

Foreign airlines operating within Nigeria have faced ongoing challenges in repatriating their commercial revenues due to a prolonged shortage of foreign exchange in the country.

The official statement from IATA stated, “Mr. Al Awadhi also held discussions with Nigeria’s newly appointed Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, the Honorable Minister Festus Keyamo. During these discussions, he urged the new government to maintain and strengthen consultations with the industry while developing both short-term and long-term solutions to address foreign exchange access issues for both domestic and foreign carriers.”

Highlighting the severity of the situation, the statement said, “As of August 2023, Nigeria accounts for $783 million of airlines’ blocked funds.”

According to the statement, IATA commends the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for its commitment to enhancing infrastructure and service standards at Lagos’s Murtala Muhammad International Airport within a twelve-month timeframe.

In related news, IATA had previously raised concerns about safety, security, and passenger service levels at Lagos Airport in the past year.

A recent high-level meeting between IATA and FAAN, represented by Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Kabir Mohammed, concluded with FAAN committing to expedite improvements in these areas as part of a corrective action plan.

Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, said, “We welcome FAAN’s commitment to upgrade Lagos Airport, which serves as a vital domestic and international hub connecting Nigeria to the rest of Africa and beyond. This strategic focus not only strengthens the aviation sector but also acts as a catalyst for Nigeria’s broader economic and social progress. IATA is ready to provide support and expertise to FAAN to ensure that international standards are met through the corrective action plan. Safety, security, and efficient infrastructure are crucial for a well-functioning air transport system, as is the ability of airlines to access the revenues they generate in Africa.”

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Federal Government Reopens D Wing of Murtala Muhammed International Airport




In a bid to address the escalating flight disruptions and enhance the efficiency of air travel, the Federal Government has officially reopened the D Wing of the old international terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

The move is part of a broader effort to tackle the challenges faced by both travelers and airlines operating in Nigeria.

This challenge emerged following the sudden relocation of foreign airlines from the international terminal of the Lagos airport to an adjoining new terminal that opened in March.

The announcement of the reopening of the old international terminal, which had temporarily closed for renovation, was made by the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, on Monday.

According to a statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs & Consumer Protection at FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria), Abdullahi Yakubu-Funtua, Minister Keyamo emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to improving the aviation sector and ensuring passengers enjoy a seamless travel experience.

The statement reads in part, “We are pleased to inform the traveling public that Hon. Minister of Aviation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, has graciously permitted the use of the D Wing of the Old Murtala Muhammed International Terminal to complement the New International Terminal, aimed at facilitating the smooth movement of passengers through the airport.”

Minister Keyamo had originally ordered airlines to relocate to the new terminal starting on October 1, 2023. However, FAAN took the initiative to forcibly relocate the international carriers to the new facility on Wednesday.

The sudden relocation by FAAN coincided with a fire incident that occurred in part of the baggage hall of MMIA on the same day. This incident compelled the agency to evacuate passengers and personnel from the facility.

In response to the situation, Mr. Abdullahi Yakubu-Funtua, the Director of Media at FAAN, stated that the airport fire and other developments affecting power supply had necessitated the abrupt relocation of foreign carriers. He assured the public that FAAN is actively addressing the situation.

The utilization of the D Wing for passenger processing has already commenced, promising improved travel experiences for all passengers.

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UAE Denies Lifting Visa Ban on Nigerian Travelers Despite Earlier Claims

Confusion Surrounds Visa Ban and Flight Resumption Agreement



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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has contradicted earlier claims made by the Nigerian government regarding the lifting of a year-long visa ban on Nigerian travelers.

This development has left many Nigerians in a state of uncertainty, especially those who have been eagerly anticipating the reopening of travel between the two nations.

Just days ago, an official from the UAE, who requested anonymity due to a lack of authorization to speak to the media, informed CNN that “there are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.”

This statement directly contradicts the announcement made by Nigerian presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale, who declared that an agreement had been reached between the two countries, allowing for the immediate resumption of flights and the lifting of the visa ban.

The UAE imposed the visa ban last October, affecting citizens from Nigeria and 19 other African nations. The abrupt halt in the issuance of visas to Nigerian nationals marked a significant shift from the previously relatively easy process of obtaining a 30-day tourist visa for the UAE.

Moreover, the suspension of flights between the two countries, initiated by Dubai’s Emirates airline, added to the strain in bilateral relations. Emirates airline suspended its operations in Nigeria, citing difficulties in accessing and repatriating approximately $85 million in withheld funds.

Dubai, a favored destination for Nigerian travelers for many years, also served as a haven for real-estate investors from Nigeria. Before the pandemic, Nigerians were among Dubai’s largest foreign real-estate investors, with investments valued at nearly $2 billion, according to local media reports.

The initial announcement from Nigeria’s presidential spokesman appeared to bring hope and relief to many who had been affected by the travel restrictions. However, the subsequent statement from the UAE government painted a different picture.

It mentioned that during the meeting, both leaders had “explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration” without mentioning the lifting of the visa ban or the resumption of flights.

In response to the confusion, Nigerian government spokesman Ajuri Ngelale issued a follow-up statement, acknowledging that officials from both countries needed more time to finalize the details of the agreement.

He urged patience, saying, “Everyone can now allow the process to work itself out organically, devoid of speculation.”

This bewildering turn of events has left Nigerian travelers, investors, and those with ties to the UAE in a state of uncertainty. Many are eagerly awaiting clarity on the status of the visa ban and the resumption of flights, as they hold out hope for a return to normalcy in their cross-border relations with the UAE.

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