Nigerian domestic airlines groan over losses from patronage


By Ismail Auwal

Nigerian domestic airlines are struggling to stay in business as passengers traffic drops dramatically at the country’s major airports.

The domestic airlines, which include Arik, Azman, Overland, Air Peace, Max, Ibom, and Aero Contractors recently increased airfares by 100 percent to cover the high cost of aviation fuel, also known as Jet Al.

However, despite the increase in airfare, low patronage across various routes keeps the airline running at a loss, SAHELIAN TIMES gathered.

Engineer Nuradeen Aliyu of Azman Air stated in an interview with this newspaper that despite the low patronage occurring every year around this time, “this year comes with a lot of difference due to the high cost of tickets which is as a result of the hike in the cost of aviation fuel.”

He lamented that petroleum products contribute about 60 percent of airlines daily running cost, and called on the Federal Government to increase its intervention in the sourcing of aviation fuel.

An ST correspondent’s visit to the airports in Abuja and Kano found near empty terminals with few passengers processing their boarding passes, as opposed to the usual high traffic, for fear of insecurity.

According to Engineer Aliyu, last year around this time aviation fuel costs were about N200 – N250 per litre, while it is now sold at N900 per litre.”

He also noted that the high dependence on foreign exchange added to the problems.

Abuja-Kano flight on Max Air is sold at N74,000 to N100,000, while for Air Peace the cost is averagely N74,000 to N80,000.

Also on Max Air, Abuja-Maiduguri is N90,000 and Lagos-Kaduna on Azman Air for a Wednesday flight is sold at N130,000. A one-way Lagos-Abuja fare is now N80,000, and could be as high as N150,000 if the travel date is in 24 hours.

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