Air Peace’s Lagos-London Flights’ll Force Foreign Airlines To Slash Airfares — Expert

A travel and tourism expert, Bankole Bernard, says with the commencement of the Lagos-London direct flight by local carrier Air Peace, foreign airlines hitherto enjoying exclusivity on the route are forced to slash airfares. 

A travel and tourism expert, Bankole Bernard, says with the commencement of the Lagos-London direct flight by local carrier Air Peace, foreign airlines hitherto enjoying exclusivity on the route are forced to slash airfares. 

Bernard, who was a guest on Channels Television’s The Morning Brief programme on Tuesday, said refusal by foreign airlines to reduce flight tickets on the Lagos-London route would force them out of the market.

The former President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) said the price of international flight ticket on the Lagos-London route was as high as N3.5m but with Air Peace pegging a return economy class ticket for N1.2m, foreign airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways have been forced to slash their prices to stay competitive.

He said foreign airlines operating into the four major airports in Nigeria are making more than enough profit, unchallenged. The four major gateways are Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano. “If they’ve been able to do, there is no need coming out to complain about (forex) backlog. May be we set up an audit committee to look at how they arrived at these backlogs,” he said.

“How come all of a sudden airfares have gone down? What could be responsible for that? Number one: there is a new entrant to a major route (Lagos-London),” Bernard said.

“There are two major destinations that Nigerians ply. Number one is Dubai and Dubai has been out of it for a while now. So, we (Nigerians) have resorted to the London route. The UK route is where a lot (of foreign carriers) use to earmark their airfares.

“Now that Air Peace has come into that space with a direct flight that will not cause any layover in any other country, the price has dropped. Why? What happened? Is there a magic around that? We should be able to question what made the prices drop.

“The prices will drop as long as we have another form of supply that is different from the conventional ones. The supply that we now have — that is Air Peace, that is a direct flight — will definitely put pressure on every other route. So, all the other airlines are forced to quickly make an adjustment or they will be out of the market in no time.”

Last Saturday, Air Peace, one of the local carriers in Nigeria, reciprocated the lopsided Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and the United Kingdom when the local airline began direct flight operations to Gatwick Airport in London.

The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo; and his counterpart at the Trade and Investment Ministry, Doris Uzoka-Anita; were onboard the inaugural Lagos-London flight alongside businessmen and women. The development has been applauded by many industry observers with more local airlines being encouraged to commence international flights to profitable routes.

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