Nigeria: Prepare for Hike in Airfare As Domestic Flights Resume, FG Tells Nigerians

The Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos

The Nigerian government has approved the resumption of domestic flight as soon as practicable inline with existing international and local guidelines on COVID-19.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, who made this known at its bi-weekly briefing on Monday, said Nigerians should expect a hike in airfare.

"The domestic aviation services is allowed to resume operations as soon as practicable in line with existing international and local guidelines on COVID-19," he said.

He said the resumption of flight operations would come with an increase in airfare.

He explained that the increment of products and services was not peculiar to the aviation sector.

According to him, prices of things have surged since the coronavirus outbreak.

"Prices have increased generally. The prices of things prior to COVID-19 is different from what it used to be.

"Even in the market, things have increased. That is the difficult thing that is going to confront us as a people and because of the protocols that are going to be introduced in the whole aviation business, you will definitely expect an increase in the prices," he said.

Nigeria shut its airports, except for essential flights, in March as the country began to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic which has caused over 500 deaths in the country.

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 had earlier announced that some domestic flights would resume on June 21.

The aviation ministry, however, said it needed more time to prepare.

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The ministry on Saturday conducted a test run of airports facilities to determine their readiness for the resumption of domestic flight operations.

Hike

Mr Mustapha said the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has already increased its customer service fare by hundred per cent.

He said this review in fare is expected in government institutions responsible for managing the aviation industry.

"Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has already increased its customer service fare with a hundred per cent.

"It used to be a thousand naira for customer service but I think it has increased to N2000 and that is even before the operation starts. So, it is not only the airlines.

"Even government institutions who have the responsibility of managing the aviation industry will review their charges because that is the nature of what COVID-19 has thrust on the people of the country and all over the world," he said.

He also said the social distancing measures have an influence on the airfare increase.

"There is also going to be the maintenance of social distancing in the aircraft. If an aircraft has a capacity of 150 people, they might now be restricted to about a 100 or 75 passengers.

"Flying comes with a component of costs. Aviation fuel is one of it, salaries for the pilots, services that are paid for to the aviation industry institutions are also things to consider.

"Every time you see a plane take off, there is an attendant cost to that. Who will bear the cost? It will be shared; the passengers will take part of it and the business owners will also take part in the cost and you know that nobody runs a business at a loss," he said.

Intervention

The PTF chairman said the federal government will assist the aviation industry "at a time the world is fighting this pandemic."

"I believe that the aviation industry is one of the industries that is hard hit by this COVID-19 because it is an industry that is designed for moving people up and down and for the last three months, they have not done anything.

"So, I think as part of the intervention of government through either the Central Bank of Nigeria or the stimulus package in the economic sustainability plan of the (N) 2.3 trillion, I believe the aviation industry will have a part of it.

"How is it going to be administered? The minister for aviation will be in a better position to say how," he said.

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