Passengers traveling from Nigeria to other African countries are paying over double of what they will have paid going to countries within Europe, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other continents, BusinessDay’s findings show.
Experts have said the reason why airfares within Africa is ridiculously higher than other continent is because there are lack of competition, connectivity and enabling environment to make air fares affordable for an average African.
In addition to these, African countries have refused to sign on to the Yamoussoukro Decision, also known as open skies agreement, which allows for liberalization of rules for international aviation markets and minimizes government intervention.
BusinessDay compared ticket prices across Africa and Europe’s largest economies.
An average price for return ticket from Lagos to Kenya on Ethiopian Airline, Kenya Airways and RwandAir ranges from N350,000 to N400,000 and N320,000 to N350,000 from Lagos to Egypt using Kenya Airways, Etihad, Turkish Airline and Ethiopian Airline.
Also, average price of a return ticket from Lagos to SouthAfrica using South African Airways, Kenyan Airways and Rwand Air costs between N450,000 to N500,000 and costs between N300,000 to N350,000 from Lagos to Morocco on Royal Air Maroc and Egypt Air.
On the other hand, an Easy Airline return ticket from Milan to France cost about 50 pounds, which is equivalent to N25,400, using black market exchange rate of N508 to a pound.
Also, an Emirates airline return ticket from Dubai to Bahrain costs 925dihrams, which is equivalent to N90,660.
Average price of a return ticket on from Germany to Poland costs between N85,000 to N110,000. While an average price of a return ticket on from New York to Miami using United Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airline cost between N40,000 to N55,000.
For developing countries like Latin America and South Asia, the prices of tickets although high, but relatively cheaper than prices of tickets with Africa.
BusinessDay’s checks show that average prices of tickets from Brazil to Mexico goes for N250,000 to N280,000. From India to Afghanistan on Sprice Jet and Air India, prices of tickets is between N170,000 to N180,000.
In addition to these, prices of tickets from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka on Bimen Bangladesh and Jet Airways cost 147,000 to 160,000, while from New Delhi IGI (DEL) to Mumbai (BOM) in India, tickets cost between N35,000 to N50,000.
“Without the enabling environment for airlines to function and implementation of the open skies agreement, air fares will continue to be high amongst African countries,” Ikechi Uko, a Nigerian travel business consultant and tourism expert told BusinessDay.
Uko said in spite of the fact that African countries have protected their skies, all their Airlines are dying. “Countries with Open Skies are doing better in aviation, so where is the wisdom against Open Skies?” he added.
Ayodeji Ebo, managing director, Afri Invest told BusinessDay that part of what is responsible for the high airfares is the cost of operations, as this varies from one country to another.
“Annual charges for licences various countries may vary. The impact on the average Nigeria is that it increases your cost of living and that increases your purchasing power and that limits the average Nigeria from travelling for recreational, business or education purposes.
“If there are major business opportunities there, the cost of flight alone will discourage such investment and make it not viable by the time you factor in the costs,” Ebo added.
Tayo Ojuri, an industry expert and Chief Executive Officer, Aglo Limited, an aviation support service told BusinessDay that prior to this time, what has been the big challenge has been the fact that there has been restrictive bilateral agreements between intra-African markets and this has restricted the growth and development of Air services in Africa.
“With this single Africa Air market, it will offer potential for aviation to be the engine of growth. There will be an issue if the legal technicalities are not well spelt out. What has been a deterrent is the fact that many African countries still believe in protecting their national interest and this cannot be compared to the benefits of open skies.