Nigerians are beginning to devise strategies that will enable them to procure cheaper international flights, writes Funmilayo Fabunmi
Nigerians are starting to make tough decisions in order to cut costs.
Some Nigerian travelers said The punch that they were starting to fly via nearby airports to reduce costs.
A businessman, Mr Joe Anakwe, said he recently moved to Ghana and flew to Dubai.
“Yes, it’s cheaper, but it’s also supposed to be less hassle,” he said. These countries do not have a dollar crisis like us, and their flight costs are cheaper compared to buying in naira,” he said.
Another Nigerian traveler, Charles Sawoe, noted that currency problems sometimes increased the cost of flights by more than 50% in Nigeria.
“I have agents in Ghana and France. These countries do not have problems with forex as is the case here. So they buy me tickets at cheaper rates. Sometimes I fly through Ghana, but sometimes I go through Lagos. But the most important thing for me is that I don’t normally buy tickets here like before,” he said.
According to the President of the National Association of Travel Agencies of Nigeria, Susan Akporiaye, Nigerians had started flying from Accra, Ghana, London, Canada and other frequently visited destinations.
Talk to The punch in a telephone interview, Akporiaye said, “Nigerians are already flying from Ghana to other countries because low ticket stocks are no longer available in Nigeria. People go to Accra because Accra always has the lowest stock available.
“The moment all airlines restrict sales to only the highest stocks like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have done, then more people will be moving to Accra to fly,” she added.
Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have since blocked all low ticket inventory on their websites, making it difficult for passengers to purchase affordable tickets.
The chairman of NANTA said, “Yeah, that’s right because they get it cheaper that way, but you know, even outside of Nigeria you get cheaper prices. It’s just that you have to issue the tickets from Nigeria. For example, restrictions on the lowest tariffs are only happening in Nigeria due to the forex crisis. It does not exist in Ghana, South Africa, London or the United States. So, for example, Virgin Atlantic sells the highest economy at N1.7 million for the Lagos-London-Lagos flight. You don’t even have to go to Accra even though Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly from Accra. I’m just using it as an example. You don’t even have to go there to fly. All you have to do is get a travel agent in London who will see a lower rate of N500,000 more but I won’t see it. This 550,000 naira theft was withdrawn to be issued by agents in Nigeria. For agents in Nigeria, you can only issue the highest. So I don’t even have to tell my client to go to Accra or go to South Africa and get on the plane, no. All I have to do is contact a colleague in London and he will get a cheaper rate. Once he gets it, I pay the person, he issues the ticket and my passenger can still fly from Lagos to London.
“So, yes, people do, but they really don’t have to. But again they forget that they also have to deliver Nigeria to Accra and back except people who live in Lagos and can go there by road. But for us who live in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria, you have to issue tickets to Accra and back, so ultimately what do you save?
“Rather than flying to other West African countries, Nigerians wishing to travel can log into the airline’s websites. The lowest fares are on their websites and as they are not based in Nigeria payment will be made in the country’s currency so this is another way to get lower fares as their website is domiciled in their country.
“The only reason they don’t sell lower rates here is that they don’t want them sold in naira because their money is trapped here. So as much as they can they increase the ones we can sell in naira and then through their websites you can get lower ones but you will pay in the country currency. They are trying to recover some of their currency which is stuck in Nigeria so that it does not increase exponentially.
“They are business people and a lot of the things they do are in dollars. They pay FAAN in dollars, buy fuel in dollars, maintain their planes in dollars and meanwhile a lot of the money is locked up here in naira. Even though it is in their accounts and not in the hands of the government, it is of no use to them in naira. Money will only be useful to them if it is in dollars and therein lies the problem. We don’t have any currency, so because of the shortage of dollars, the government can’t convert their money to them. So they’re looking for a way to make sure they get some things back. So, the person who is ready to pay 1.7 million naira will pay in naira, so he will go and buy on the black market. But for those who are lower now, they cannot carry their money and go buy in the black market, which will be a huge loss.
“The Nigerian government does not allow trading in any currency other than naira, but trading on an airline’s website is not considered illegitimate in Nigeria as that website is not domiciled here. So you can’t say they are selling dollars in Nigeria; it is only when you physically go to their office or through a travel agent and pay in dollars that they may have trouble with the Nigerian government. On their websites, they can do whatever they want.
The punchin the early hours of Thursday, reported that Emirates Airlines had announced the suspension of its flight operations in Nigeria from September 1, 2022. The airline said the suspension had become necessary following its inability to repatriate its funds from Nigeria .
International carriers operating in Nigeria have repeatedly complained about their inability to repatriate funds to their home country. They have expressed this concern on numerous occasions to the officials of the federal ministry of aviation as well as those of the ministry of finance.
The stranded funds belonging to these airlines have reached around $600 million and this is due to the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria to make the dollar available to carriers for repatriation, according to the operators.
In its statement on Thursday, Emirates Airlines said it “has tried in every way to address our current challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to engage in dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.
“Unfortunately, there has been no progress. Emirates has therefore taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective September 1, 2022, to limit further losses and damage. impact on our operational costs which continue to accumulate in the market.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will endeavor to help affected customers make alternative travel arrangements where possible. »
“We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity to Nigerian travellers, providing access to Dubai’s business and tourism opportunities, and our wider network of over 130 destinations,” the global carrier said.
In addition, British Airways has already reduced its flight frequencies to Nigeria, as the airline informed its passengers last Thursday of an impending increase in the price of its air tickets.
Reacting to this, the President of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, Kingsley Nwokeoma, said more international carriers would soon join Emirates Airlines if nothing was done to address their concerns.
He said, “This is just the beginning. It is more than a billion dollars that is detained and they (foreign airlines) cannot repatriate it. If other countries are like Nigeria, there will be no industry because that money is used for maintenance. Even the money used to pay their staff in Nigeria comes from other climates.
“The aviation industry is 100% safety focused. If there is no money, the security will not be 100% guaranteed. So it will continue. Emirates kicked it off and I’m sure you know that British Airways cut their flights to Nigeria and that’s how it’s going to start.
“Just like Emirates did, first they’re going to cut their flights to Nigeria and they’re going to look at it holistically again and if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t. It hasn’t started. It started over the years and the government is doing nothing.
In a similar vein, the group of aviation professionals, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, has expressed its displeasure with the Federal Government of Nigeria while stating that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s continued withholding of ticket sales foreign airlines had a negative effect. effect on the image of the country.
ART has advised the federal government to urgently ensure payment to airlines in order to restore normalcy to the aviation sector.
In a statement signed by the Deputy Secretary General of ART, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, the body described as appalling the management of accumulated foreign airline funds trapped in Nigerian banks due to non-allocation of foreign currency to these airlines.
The statement reads in part as follows: “The Aviation Security Roundtable Initiative is appalled at the appalling management of the accumulated funds of foreign airlines trapped in our banks, due to the non-allocation of foreign currency to these Airlines companies.
“177, 151, 100, 10.1. Conversion and remittance are authorized without delay in accordance with the exchange regulations in force.
“International trade is bound by sacrosanct and respected agreements. Nigeria cannot help but crave the attention of investors in our industry.
“It is important to clarify that foreign airlines sold these tickets at the official IATA rate and cannot be expected to go to the parallel market to source, convert and handing over, as some quarters have said, the central bank should do what is necessary, as stipulated in the BASA agreements.
“These funds should have been paid at the official rate on the date of sale as soon as the airlines obtain clearance after paying all local obligations, including taxes.
“The damage our action has done to Nigeria’s image as an investment-friendly nation is extensive, as citizens face high fares, reduced capacity and limited travel options, which are will worsen if we continue on this trajectory.
“We have found ourselves in this unenviable situation because we lack the ability to compete, which would have reduced the volume of remittances.”