A recent analysis of flight ticket prices reveals a striking difference in airfare between Nigeria and other African countries. For instance, a one-way economy class ticket from Lagos to London on Turkish Airlines costs $1,636 (N1,313,708), while the same ticket from Cotonou to London is priced at $469 (N376,607) for the same date. Even flights from South Africa to London or Istanbul, covering long distances, are consistently cheaper than those from Lagos or Istanbul on the same airline and date.
This significant variation in ticket prices has led some Nigerian passengers to opt for flights from Accra, Ghana, to popular destinations, aiming to reduce costs. However, the question arises: why the wide disparity in ticket prices between Nigeria and other African destinations? Is it a case of rip-off, or are there underlying factors contributing to this concerning trend?
While foreign airlines attribute high ticket costs to Nigeria’s exchange rate and trapped funds, some aviation stakeholders argue that other African countries with similar exchange rates and trapped funds offer relatively cheaper fares. They contend that foreign airlines capitalize on the high demand and lack of Nigerian carriers on international routes to charge higher fares and, in essence, “rip off” Nigerian passengers.
In the past, the introduction of Air Peace flights from Lagos to the United Arab Emirates resulted in reduced base fares on the route from N400,000 to about N250,000. However, the absence of robust financial support for local airlines to compete with foreign carriers poses challenges.
Addressing the situation, stakeholders suggest that encouraging local airlines to compete and collaborate with foreign airlines could lead to more competitive fares. Lowering taxes and improving operational efficiency would also play a role in reducing ticket prices. They emphasize the need for a strong national carrier and improved support from the government to protect domestic airlines on international routes.
Additionally, the issue of trapped funds, amounting to $812.2 million out of $2.27 billion globally, remains a significant concern for foreign airlines operating in Nigeria. This situation forces airlines to block low inventory (low fares) in Nigeria, while these same fares are available in other African ticket-selling platforms, affecting the Nigerian economy.
In conclusion, the disparity in ticket prices between Nigeria and other African countries is a multifaceted issue involving exchange rates, trapped funds, airline competition, and government support for local carriers. Addressing these challenges will be crucial to ensuring more affordable air travel options for Nigerian passengers.