Lagos and Abuja — The few operational domestic airlines are cashing in on the suspension placed on the Dana Airline by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) last Sunday.
The IRS Airline, one of the domestic operators also recently imposed self suspension to carry out routine maintenance on its fleet.
With increase in patronage, the existing airlines have increased their airfares, even though they have not increased their frequencies, Daily Trust report.
Airfares have gone up by an average of 32 percent.
For instance, Arik Air previously charged between N27,000 and N35,000 on the Lagos -Abuja route now charges N39,500 for the same 50 minutes flight.
Aero now charges between N24,000 and N30,000 per ticket over the counter from Lagos to Abuja. It previously hovered between N20,000 to N25,000.
Medview airlines now charges about N25,000 from Lagos to Abuja. It used to be N23,000 at peak periods.
Chanchangi airline which previously charged N20,000 from Lagos to Abuja now charges N25,000 on the same route.
The First Nation too has increased its fare from N23,000 (Lagos to Abuja) to N25,000 at the counter.
Dana Air operated at least 12 flights daily while IRS operated eight 8 per day before their suspension.
The vacuum created by both airlines is having significant impact on the passengers.
The airlines currently operating domestic flights include Arik Air, Medview Airline, Aero Contractors, Chanchangi and First Nation Air-ways.
These airlines have also increased their air fares, cashing in on the vacuum created by Dana and IRS. However, none of the airlines have increased their flight frequency.
In the face of the high fares, touts and some airport workers were seen doing rackets on tickets to travelers who don't have the patience to endure the long queues, Daily Trust correspondent reports. The racketeers could get any airline ticket for a traveler willing to part with additional N2,000 or N3,000.
The touts were seen having a field day at the Murtala Muhammed airport (MM2) and MM1 even though touting had been banned at the airports.
When Daily Trust correspondent enquired about the authenticity of their tickets, one simply responded: "Oga, we will get the ticket for you but don't pay us now. When you have passed all checks and about to board, we will meet you there and collect our money."
Meanwhile, passengers have expressed dissa-tisfaction with the manner the airlines are out to milk passengers.
One traveler who simply identified himself as Austine said: "I'm travelling to Abuja. I went to Arik Air, I was told N39,500. I previously fly Arik for even N27,000. Why am I being forced to pay N39,500? Just because Dana Air is grounded? This is ridiculous?," he said.
Another Passenger, who said his name was Mr. Adebayo Emmanuel, expressed same frustration at the Aero contractors terminal.
Several other passengers were also miffed about the increased air fare.
They called on the Consumer Protection Department of the NCAA to move in quickly to check arbitrary increase in airfares in times of crisis.
Spokesman of Arik Air Adebanji Ola did not return calls and SMS.
A top official in Aero Airline told Daily Trust under condition of anonymity that the billing software the company is using is wired to automatically increase fares when the demand is huge and reduce fare when demand is low.