Summer Rush: Nigerians Still Travelling Despite High Airfares

(Sundiata Post) – Nigerians are still taking to the air this summer despite announcement of a new dollar exchange rate for the sale of air tickets, which has affected the prices of ticket from Nigeria to international destinations.
This is as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Montreal, Canada, announced that from Friday, its exchange rate for ticket sales, which stood at N327.7 to a dollar earlier this week, will increase to N359.40 to a dollar from today.
As a result, travel agencies Thursday last week advised travellers to purchase their tickets to guide against high ticket cost.
Three weeks ago, IATA, representing over 290 global airlines, reviewed the dollar exchange rate for the sale of tickets for flights out of Nigeria.
Airlines tickets have increased by 6 per cent after adjustment of reference dollar exchange rate to N325 on August 1, against N315 to N320 interbank rate.
“Expectedly, the exchange rates fluctuations affect the prices of tickets as airlines sell tickets in naira and repatriate their monies in dollars,” Tayo Ojuri, industry expert/CEO, Aglow Limited, an aviation support service, said.
BusinessDay’s checks show that a return economy class ticket on the Lagos-London route, which previously cost about N648,500 or less a few months ago when the interbank rate was between N315 to N330 to a dollar, now costs N690,000 or more this month, depending on airline or time of travel, representing almost 6 per cent increase.
The famous Lagos-Dubai route that in few months ago had a return economy ticket costing N240,000 or less now costs N260,000 or more, representing a 7.6 per cent increase.
Further checks show that despite this increase, the load factors for these locations are over 96 per cent, as airlines are strengthening their presence in the Nigerian market.
A top travel agency in the country, who craved anonymity, told BusinessDay that Nigerians were still on the move to locations such as Dubai, London, New York, Atlanta and South Africa.
“During summer, Nigerians love to go to Dubai and London to shop, while some go to New York, Atlanta and South Africa because of the tourist attractions in these locations.
“The demand to travel to destinations such London, United States and Dubai has picked up again, considerably compared to last year when people had to opt to shift their travel locations to African countries, while others had to postpone their trips, pending when the situation will be better.
“As a result of the oil crisis, Nigeria faced economic downturn. However, I am happy to see that we are coming back much faster than expected. It is good news for everyone. However, while we were passing through the recession, leisure travel was affected as people spent less on expenses that could be cut down,” Nilesh Thakkar, chief commercial officer, Satguru Travels, told BusinessDay.
Some airlines are witnessing over 20 per cent rise in the bookings, especially for new and cheaper destinations, and others are seeing almost double of the number of passengers who booked for same destinations last summer.
Comparing passenger traffic in May 2016 and 2017, which is when most bookings for summer are confirmed, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria recorded stability and growth in the volume of passengers. While about 223,531 passengers travelled for outbound destinations in May 2016, 243,994 went for same purpose in May 2017. (BusinessDay)

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