How Nigerian Airlines Can Survive On Int’l Routes – Stakeholders

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Aviation stakeholders have warned local airlines venturing into international routes to ensure that their ticket cost is competitive enough to keep them on the route.

They argued that the airlines can run into early crises with uncompetitive fare like some local airlines that have plied the route  before.

Recall that Air Peace, on Friday, launched the Lagos-London route even as the management of United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), said the airline is the next in line to launch flight operations to the United Kingdom.

However, since Air Peace launched its Lagos -London routes, foreign airlines have reduced their airfare drastically.

For instance, RwandAir Express reviewed its airfare to N1,102,563; Royal Air Maroc at N1,628,675; and Ethiopian Airlines at N1,641,249. This was against a round-trip economy class ticket from Lagos to London, on March 4, 2024, which attracted significantly higher prices.

Air France priced it at N2,482,138, while Lufthansa offered it at N1,966,165. Qatar Airways provided the same ticket for N2,016,824, and KLM priced it at N2,448,740.

The average fare for flights on March 30 amounted to approximately N1,457,495.67, reflecting a decrease from the prices observed on March 4, which averaged approximately N2,478,466.75

Also, on the Lagos to New York route on Qatar Airways, the ticket was sold for N2,982,049 as of March 4. However, as of Saturday, it was sold for N1,989,098.

KLM charged N3,158,314; Air France priced it at N3,148,308; United Airlines listed it at N3,193,185, and Delta Air Lines offered the ticket for N3,310,097, on March 4, 2024.

However, speaking to LEADERSHIP, the general secretary, Aviation Round Table Initiative (ARTI), Olumide Ohunayo, said Air Peace coming into Lagos-London crashed the airfare on the route.

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He, however, called for government support to ensure that more local airlines compete favourably on the international routes.

“It’s good that Nigeria has a carrier on the international route again and we could see the impact immediately as direct flight to London and also other airlines such as Air France, Air Maroc, KLM all have to adjust their prices. There is nothing good as supporting our own and the need to have more Nigerian airlines on the international routes.

“We have seen the benefit and one thing is to start and another is to sustain it so I will advise that there should be schedule integrity and reliability from Air Peace and any would be carrier. Their frequency must be respected even as they will have to look at partner airlines that can help to move passengers beyond Gatwick or link them to another airport beyond London.

That would add more value and bring more passengers to them.”

 

“Also, they should have a reliable and firm schedule and frequency. They should maintain their necessary certification and ensure training to attract more partners and investors. I think they should look at their cost and ensure they don’t run into trouble like some other airlines that have gone international before. They are good to go and for the first time, Nigerians supported Air peace because they are fed up with the frustration of the high fare of foreign airlines which Nigeria felt wasn’t fair.”

 

Speaking on Aero politics on the international route and how Nigerian airlines can survive it, Ohunayo, said the government and not the airline have a significant role to play.

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According to him, the federal government through the ministry of Justice and Aviation would play the role for the airlines.

 

“Aero politics is not the responsibility of the airlines alone, the government through the ministry of aviation, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) all have a role to play. There should be coordination, because there are some tactics that cannot be done by the airline alone but some of the agencies to respond to the foreign carriers if our airlines are dealt with over there. Our airlines alone cannot handle it but the agencies and ministry of aviation to give support even the ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs. The government must be coordinated to battle the aero political part of it,” he stated.

 

Also speaking, the group managing director, Dees Travels and Tours Limited, Daisi Olotu, informed LEADERSHIP that Air Peace should prepare for showdown with foreign airlines on the route.

 

According to Olotu, the government should also support Air Peace, saying that’s the only way it can sustain the route and be profitable.

 

“There is a lot that we need to do concerning sustainability because right now, Air Peace has started but sustainability depends on the management of Air Peace and how they are able to manage their success. All foreign airlines operating on that route won’t rest and fare war has started and all the airlines have started dropping their fare to the advantage of the travelling public.

 

“However, I hope Air Peace won’t disappoint Nigerians because they have to carry on whether it is profitable or not and once they continue and become consistent, they will break even and the route will become profitable for them,” Olotu, an aspirant in the coming National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA).

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Olotu further argued that the Lagos-London-Lagos route is the most travelled European country in Nigeria.

 

“We all know that Lagos-London- Lagos is the most travelled route in the country. London is the most travelled country in Europe even more than America if compared even with statistics than every other route. Therefore, Air Peace needs to see how they could review their expenses on this route

 

“When you are in business and you are making a loss there will be adjustment so whatever adjustment they want to do, they should do it along the line. They will be faced with a lot of challenges and now that they have started they will fight back with harassment so they shouldn’t give up.

 

“However, the route belongs to the Nigeria government carrier but the government needs to support Air Peace to withstand the storm in all manner of harm they will see. Government has helped them so far, but they should do more. By the time they keep it up, foreign airlines will have no other choice than to let them be. It’s a good one for Nigeria,” Olotu stated.

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