By ANTHONY AWUNOR, Lagos –
Less than three weeks to Christmas and New Year celebrations, airlines have started jerking up their fares from the normal tariff to what can be described as fares for seasonal periods.
As at yesterday, cost of an economy class flight ticket (one way) from Lagos to Abuja hovered from N50, 000 and above for those who are lucky to get any. Those who are booking 48 hours ahead their journeys were charged between N27, 000 to N31, 000 for an economy ticket.
A popular domestic carrier as at Saturday was selling Lagos-Abuja economy class ticket for 7: 00 am , 8: 00 am and 11:00 am flights for N37,100, N30,600 and N35, 100 respectively.
On Sunday morning an economy ticket (one way) was booked 48 hours ahead for 7:00am, 7:30am and 12: 42pm for N31, 500, N29, 000 and N27,000 respectively, depending on the airline.
Despite the subtle hike in air fares, LEADERSHIP gathered that most airlines leaving Lagos to Abuja at the weekend were fully booked.
It was also gathered that flights departing to other destinations from Lagos have also started tilting their fares, a bit lower than the percentage increase on Abuja route.
A ticketing officer who spoke at the counter of one of the domestic airlines at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos said “tickets are very costly these days.
But what is happening in Abuja; people are just booking for Monday and Tuesday at a very high rate”.
The officer who spoke on condition of anonymity could not however, pin point the reason why the tickets are sold higher. She however, predicted that air passengers, in the coming days will have to pay higher.
According to her, there are indications that the fares would go up in the coming weeks.
Apart from the high cost of ticket purchase during the period, it is also expected that flights may be delayed across the country following a recent warning that came directly from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which issued a weather alert to all airline operators indicating hazards associated with Harmattan dust haze in flight operations at last quarter of the year.
Resultantly, where visibility falls below the prescribed weather minima, flight operations are expected to be delayed, diverted or out rightly cancelled.
In a circular issued to all operators recently, the regulatory agency stated that this alert is important as Harmattan is known to pose an obvious threat to aircraft particularly in areas of challenging terrains due to low visibility.
This is according to the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) which reported that the prevailing weather condition is likely to herald a long and severe dust haze in the months ahead.
It stated that “the Advisory circular AC: NCAA- AEROMET-24 is intended to alert pilots of the hazards associated with dust haze which is a dry and dusty wind that blows southwards from the Sahara across Nigeria during the months of November to March”.
“The effect of the dust and sand stirred by the wind is known as Harmattan dust haze. Therefore, Pilots should note that air-to-ground visibility may be considerably reduced due to the dust haze”.