The over 100 percent raise in airfares in Nigeria has been attributed to the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, has said.
Addressing the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 media briefing in Abuja on Thursday, he said: “As regards ticket prices, yes ticket prices have gone up astronomically over the last week or so. That is one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a shutdown of the airports for several months, the airlines were not making money and there are fixed cost that they have to deal with, they have to maintain the aircraft and unfortunately most of these aircraft are maintained outside the country.
“Two issues — because of the shutdown they did not even have slots to take their aircraft out and the dollar rate has gone up and they need to raise enough money.
“The aviation, tourism and travel industry is one of the most devastating industries by COVID-19.
“The problem basically is that of supply and demand. The supply for airline seats internationally have significantly gone down, while the demand domestically since we opened have gone up. So it is simple economics 101, when the demand exceeds supply, the prices will go up.”
Persecondnews reports that as a result of the high exchange rate in the black market put at about N500 to a dollar, one hour economy class seat of N33, 000 has gone up to N75, 000 while return ticket is about N121, 000 as against last week’s N60, 000.
On the sacked 300 staff, Nuhu said:“There was an issue but the staff were never sacked, there was a threat between one of the airlines and the staff and some disengagement disagreements, however, the NCAA intervened.
“We spoke with both the management and labour unions and they have agreed to go back to the discussion table. The last report we received they have made significant progress in closing that gaps and we hope they conclude and nobody is sacked.”
On the government’s bailout for airlines, the NCAA boss said it was being handled by Federal Ministry of Aviation.
“What I can say about the bailout is that a N5 billion bailout to airlines and other service providers within the industry has been set up. I know a committee was set up to work out the modalities how the bailout will be shared among those who are entitled.
“I know the committee has finished or about finishing and shortly we should be hearing from the minister.”