During the festive season encompassing Christmas and the New Year, air passengers heading to the South Eastern part of Nigeria will encounter return ticket prices surpassing N500,000, according to reports by LEADERSHIP.

While routes such as Lagos-Abuja, Lagos-Port Harcourt, and Lagos-Uyo maintain their pre-yuletide fare, flights to the South Eastern region are notably exorbitant. Corresponding to LEADERSHIP’s monitoring, return tickets from Lagos to Anambra on Air Peace are priced at N533,600, while Lagos-Enugu and Lagos-Owerri return tickets are tagged at N343,200 and N533,600, respectively.

United Nigeria Airlines lists Abuja-Anambra, Lagos-Anambra, Lagos-Enugu, and Lagos-Owerri return tickets at N441,000, N520,500, and N441,000, respectively. For Owerri, the only South-Eastern destination served by Dana Air, the return ticket during this period is set at N400,000.

Despite the substantial increase in flight ticket prices, airlines have reportedly sold out their seats for the yuletide season. Stakeholders attribute this surge to factors such as inflation, foreign exchange fluctuations, airlines encountering trapped funds, and a rise in jet A1 costs.

Peak periods for airlines occur during the yuletide, and the current insecurity in the region prompts visitors to opt for the higher airfares over land travel.

Secretary-General of Aviation Round Table Initiative (ARTI), Olumide Ohunayo, acknowledged that the current fare aligns with the demand and the timing of ticket purchases during the festive season. He suggested that more airlines or wet-leased aircraft could help meet the high demand during this period.

Ohunayo emphasized that with aviation products priced in dollars and Nigerian airlines earning in Naira, the current airfare is not unexpected given the prevailing exchange rate. He anticipates a return to normal rates by January.

Former Commandant of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), endorsed the notion that aviation service costs globally reflect the economic reality against the Dollar. He urged the federal government to enforce the compulsory deposit of forex charges into a domiciliary account in the Central Bank of Nigeria, aligning the costs with the nation’s economic situation.

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