Increase in the prices of local plane tickets; the passengers lament

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A local airline at Ho Airport | File photo

Local airfare prices have soared 15-20%, sparking recession fears among local operators following a “gradual decline” in footfall.

The new prices, which came into effect on July 08, 2022, were in response to an increase in operational costs caused by the depreciation of the Cedi against the dollar and the increase in aviation fuel prices, collected the Ghana News Agency.

Domestic airline operators said their operating costs had doubled since the start of the year and an upward adjustment in airfares was needed to sustain their business.

The Cedi has depreciated by around 28% since the start of the year while aviation fuel prices have more than doubled since January this year.

In July alone, the Cedi depreciated by 7% to stand at GHS 8.50 per dollar on August 1, 2022.

According to industry players, Jet A-1 (one of the most commonly used fuels for commercial aviation) which averaged $0.6 per litre, soared to an average of 1, $2,130 (ex-refinery price) as of July 31, 2022.

National airline operators said they initially resisted the urge to adjust their airfares for fear patronage would crumble.

Under the new pricing scheme, passengers booking a one-way trip to Kumasi could pay up to GHS 689 (depending on the airline and time), while a return trip now costs around GHS 1,300.

A one-way ticket from Accra to Tamale now costs an average of GHS 642, while a round trip costs almost GHS 1,400.

A fuel surcharge of between GHS 50 and GHS 100, depending on the airline, is included in the total price increase; the charge was introduced in March this year to protect airlines from the rising cost of aviation fuel.

In an interview with some passengers, they expressed concern about the development, saying the increases would force them to resort to road transport.

Some of the passengers said they would continue to travel by air to save time and for security reasons, adding that they would only travel “when extremely necessary”.

“Last month I paid 449 GHS from Accra to Kumasi. Just two weeks later I wanted to book for a return trip and the least I got was GHS 689.

“The increase was sudden. At least they should have advertised in advance, so we are planning accordingly,” said a regular passenger, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In an interview with the GNA, Mr Duncan Sambu, Chief Operating Officer of PassionAir, said there had been a gradual decline in ridership on its services since the new fares were introduced a few weeks ago.

He said the increase was necessary as local operators were strained by the rising cost of aviation fuel and the depreciation of the Cedi.

Mr Sambu said that although the cost of aviation fuel fell last month (about $0.02 per liter in the second half of July), the decrease was insignificant.

“When you compare our price increase to the depreciation of the Cedi against the dollar, we are below the depreciation,” he said.

He added that: “We can see that the numbers in terms of patronage have gone down because a lot of people don’t have that buying power.”

Mr Sambu said a downward adjustment in their prices “is not immediate” as projections suggest the Cedi could depreciate further in the coming weeks.

“We’re still monitoring, and once things start to improve, we’ll re-examine our pricing,” he said.

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