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Passengers planning to travel by air from Wednesday, July 8, when domestic flights resume after four months of lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, should be prepared to pay almost double of their old fares. Virtually all airlines have increased their fares in a bid to abide by the social distancing protocol for all air travellers.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, recently announced that domestic flights would resume on July 8 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos. The Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri airports would reopen on July 11, while other airports across the country will join on July 15.
All the eight operating airlines, yesterday, expressed readiness to hit the airspace from next week, though not all were deemed ready by the NCAA.
Investigation by The Guardian revealed that virtually all airlines have jacked up their fares by at least 75 per cent ahead of the resumption of domestic flights.
As at the time of filing this report, Dana Airline has increased its fares for Economy Discount Class of seat from N18, 000 to N33, 300, while the Business Flexible that sold for N73, 000 before the lockdown would sell for N162, 000 for Lagos-Abuja route. The cheapest class for Air Peace that sold for N23, 000 for Lagos-Abuja route before the lockdown now sells for N33, 001.
While Dana increases fares by 75 per cent, Air Peace jacked up by 43 per cent. Arik hiked its fares for the cheapest class from N21, 000 before the lockdown to N27, 000, which represents a 29 per cent increase.
However, as at press time, Azman Air, Aero Contractor and Ibom Air, which just acquired its fourth Bombardier C900, were yet to load flight schedule and fares for flight resumption.
Meanwhile, the apex regulatory body of the air travel industry, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), yesterday, made good its threat to enforce strict COVID-19 related safety guidelines, as its grounded 18 aircraft over non-compliance.
While the NCAA has also reiterated its plans not to allow non-compliant operators to resume flight next week, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has also issued mandatory safety protocols for all intending passengers.