Domestic airline operators at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Monday, reduced their fares to parts of the country in order to win back passengers.
Some airline officials told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the move was to encourage travellers who could not afford the high fares.
NAN report that Arik Air, which sold its one-way ticket last week for between N30,000 and N40,000 to any destination in the country from Abuja, has reduced it to between N30,00 and N35,000 for economy class and N45,000 for business class.
Aero Contractors tickets, which were sold for N28,000 economy and N50,000 business class, have dropped to N21,400 and N49,000 respectively, while IRS charges between N22,000 and N25,000 for economy and N50,000 for business flyers.
Med-View, a new airline which started operation last week, charges between N15,000 and N19,000 for economy ticket and N49,000 on business class to Lagos. Aero Business Development Manager Mark Snoxell said the airline had reduced its fare to gain more business opportunities.
He said the move would also help the airline to mitigate losses occasioned by flying with empty seats. An official of Arik Air, who pleaded anonymity, said two of its aircraft that were faulty on Friday had been rectified and certified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to fly.
The official said that the aircraft resumed flight operations that same day, adding that it was one of the reasons the company reduced its ticket rates. He said the airline as at 2 p.m. on Monday had airlifted more than 700 passengers across the country at the new rates.
NAN recalls that the Director General of NCAA, Dr Harold Demuren, had said that more local airlines would soon begin operations in Nigeria by the end of November and this may have prompted the airlines to reduce their fares. Mr Haruna Ibrahim, a passenger, told NAN that more airlines should be brought in to ease the passenger traffic.
Another passenger, Mrs Folashade Ojo, said the government should introduce modern rail transportation to enable Nigerians to have choices of transport mode. "If modern rail transportation is introduced in this country, the airline operators will sit up; they will reduce their fares further,'' she said.
Mr Harold Katsina-Alu, a passenger to Uyo, expressed surprise that the airline counters were not crowded on a Monday. "I was astonished when I got here and did not meet a queue at the desks and having a choice of which airline to fly with. This is a new development, but I pray it will continue.
"The Minister of Aviation has really tried but we want the Federal Government to do more in fulfilling their promises to Nigerians of ensuring that air transportation becomes one of the best and affordable to all,’’ he said.