y Adekunle Williams and Solomon Asowata
Travellers on the domestic routes were on Friday hit with a drastic increase of air fair, due to shortage of flights by local airlines.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that shortage of flights is due to the reduction in number of aircraft being used by domestic airlines in recent weeks.
Some of the airlines said their aircraft were currently out of the country for maintenance purposes, while others claim that their planes were unavailable due to “operational reasons’’.
However, the few operational airlines, as well as travel agents, have taken advantage of the situation to jack up their air fares, to the chagrin of intending travellers.
The airlines operating at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) include: Arik Air, Air Peace, Overland Airways, Dana Air, Max Air, Medview Airlines, Arik Air (PH).
Others are; Aero Contractors and Azman Air, which operate at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2).
A NAN aviation correspondent, who monitored the situation at both domestic terminals, observed that some travellers were stranded, due to their inability to get seats on the available flights.
Also, the counters of Arik Air, Azman Air, Dana Air, Max Air, Aero and Air Peace witnessed a large number of passengers trying to book and pay ahead, in order to secure their seats.
NAN reports that an Air Peace Economy Class one way ticket on the Lagos-Abuja route, was being sold for N32, 700, as against N25, 500 before the flight shortage.
Similarly, a Lagos-Port Harcourt one way ticket was selling for N42, 700 as against the previous fare of N35, 000, while Lagos-Uyo one way, was sold for N42, 700 as against N30, 700.
An Arik Air economy class one way ticket from Lagos-Abuja was sold for N27, 548 as against N22, 560, while Lagos-Port Harcourt one way, was sold for N39, 000, as against previous fare of N30, 700.
Mr Chris Iwarah, Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, told NAN that five of the airline’s aircraft were pulled out of service for C-Checks abroad.
Iwarah, in a statement, said the carrier was concerned about reports of shortage of scheduled flights across the country.
He said that the airline was ready to do everything within its capacity to ease the pain of air travellers.
“We urge members of the flying public not to entertain any fear. Most of our aircraft that went for C-Check will soon begin to return, to join our operations.
“We are soon going to schedule more flights and deploy more aircraft
across our domestic routes.
“We have also made plans to cater to the upsurge expected during the Yuletide.
“A lot of flights would be scheduled from around Dec. 17, to seamlessly take those travelling for Christmas and the New Year to their destinations.
“As an airline, we prioritise safety and place a premium on the lives of our valued passengers and crew.
“We have undertaken comprehensive maintenance of most of our aircraft to ensure their readiness for our end-of-year operations,’’ he said.
On his part, Mr Kingsley Ezenwa, Media and Communications Manager, Dana Air, told NAN that the airline was currently undergoing recertification by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“We are currently undergoing recertification which hopefully will be concluded in two days. As soon as we conclude, more flights will be available,’’ he said.
Two travellers, Mr Peter Olaoye and Mr Ijeomah Ikechukwu, expressed concern over the shortage of flights.
They urged the airlines to find lasting solutions to the problem, especially as the festive period was approaching.