N18,000 to N30,000 and from there to N43,000 and above!. That was the sequences of the airfares hikes during the Christmas period leading to the passengers being stranded at some of the Nigerian airports. The report has it that the airliners capitalized on the seasonal rush to hike their fares.
Officials of some of the airlines said the rush for tickets was more pronounced on Lagos, Enugu, Abuja, Owerri,Port Harcourt and Calabar routes.
Some of the inquiries made at the Lagos airports and some airlines representatives revealed that average fare on the Lagos-Enugu route, which was less than 45 minutes, was jacked up to N35,000 as against N20,000 about two months ago. the same were also said of Lagos-Abuja route, which climbed to N40,000 as against N24,000 some weeks back which the passengers are already complaining about.
On the Lagos-Port Harcourt and Lagos-Owerri routes, it costs between N38, 000 and N45,000.
NAN recalls that, Mr Yakubu Dati, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), had on Dec. 11 advised Nigerians to make use of passenger service portals.
Dati said that this was to help them plan their trips ahead in order to avoid last-minute stress.
Dati said that platforms empower passengers with tools to make traveling experience easy for them during periods like this when there is always upsurge in demand for air transports.
Some of the passengers who spoke with newsmen, could not hide their feelings as they wondered why fares were always hiked during festive periods in Nigeria.
One of them, Mr. Faleti, a traveler heading to Enugu from Abuja said "it is funny how things operate here. This is a time to share and not to exploit your passengers".
According to him, domestic airlines should learn to introduce low cost promotional fares to attract travelers instead of exploiting passengers as a result of the season.
He regretted the dearth of local carriers in the sector, adding that, the few in the business were cashing on the development at the detriment of their customers.
Another passenger, Dr Mayowa Olawale, said before now he had been searching for low cost fares online but could not get any.
"I'm on my way to Abuja where my parents reside. I searched on the Internet for promotional fares but was disappointed when I found out that all the carriers going my way had their ticket prices above N35, 000," he said.
Meanwhile, some ticketing officers, who pleaded anonymity said that the difference in airfares when compared to what they used to be was normal at this period.
"It is normal for airfares to rise, especially during Christmas and as the year comes to an end. It is not only our airline that has increased fares,'' he said.