- A new report has revealed how Nigerian politicians jostle for expensive air tickets to the US, the UK, or other foreign countries
- The glaring disparity shows others on the same aircraft paying as little as N1.3 million to the same destination
- Currently, a First Class ticket sells for as much as N16 million while a Business Class ticket sells for N9 million, depending on the airline
A new report has revealed how Nigerians travelling to the US, the United Kingdom, and other countries pay a lump sum to get pricey tickets on the same aircraft.
The report said that a business class ticket to the US from Abuja on Ethiopian Airline sells for as much as N15.6 million. In contrast, passengers in economy class on the same aircraft pay about N1.2 million.
Naira devaluation causes a surge in the price of air tickets
The demand for the N15.6 million ticket is reportedly high but short on supply.
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Travelers on British Airways pay about N16 million for First class tickets and N9 million for business-class tickets on the same aircraft. In contrast, economy class costs about N6.4 million for the same aircraft.
The exchange rate has caused a surge in the price of air tickets as foreign air travel is primarily priced in USD. The development means that a weak naira results in higher travel costs.
On June 14, 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) devalued the naira and unified the exchange rate windows.
Analysts believe the decision has worsened Nigeria's Forex challenges, weakened the naira further, and caused a surge in inflation.
The impact, they say, is also a jump in the cost of air tickets outside the country.
In the parallel market, the local currency is trading around N1,000 to a US dollar, causing a surge in the cost of air travel.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) set the exchange rate for air tickets in Nigeria at N851 per dollar.
Politicians jostle for first-class tickets
Nigerian travellers have decried the exorbitant cost of air travel, but those travelling First Class or Business Class do not worry about the price.
PoliticsNow reports that most people who travel First Class or Business Class are politicians.
A roundtrip on economy class on British Airways to the United Kingdom reportedly costs about N4.1 million. First Class ticket in the same aircraft is priced at N11.4 million.
A travel consultant, identified as Ayo, said the First Class Tickets are always the first to be snapped up, and when not available, the passengers ask that their flights be cancelled until they are available.
Ayo revealed that Nigerian politicians are on the First Class or Business Class travellers list.
He said the recent trip by Nigerian officials to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) saw all the delegates travelling First Class.
According to him, most bank officials and CEOs of companies mostly travel First Class or Business Class.
The list also includes top executives of Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) who pay N12 to N16 million on the same aircraft as those who pay as little as N1.3 million.
Airlines entice passengers with juicy offers to travel first-class
Apart from being a status symbol, the rush for first-class tickets comes with some perks the airline offers.
First-class passengers on a British Airways flight enjoy priority boarding and a suite featuring a lie-flat bed, amenity kits, loungewear, and upgraded bedding. Meals are always served on demand on First-Class, including wines and spirits.
Nigerians pay more than African countries
Recently, a report by Legit.ng revealed the disparity between air travellers from Nigeria and those of other African countries.
A recent viral social media post revealed how international airlines charge Nigerians more than citizens of other African countries.
According to the post, Lagos to London costs about $1,636, about N1.3 million, while Cotonou to London flight on the same airline costs about $469 or N380,000.
Investigations show that almost all neighbouring countries enjoy cheaper airfares than Nigeria despite the volume of travel from the country.
Also, International airfares, especially to European countries, are expected to keep climbing in the coming days.
The development follows the closure of the Nigerien airspace by the country's coup leader on Sunday, August 6, 2023.
National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) announced the closure of Niger Republic's airspace amid threats by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanding that President Mohamed Bazoum be restored or there would be military action.
“Lagos to Ibadan N6,500”: cheapest, most expensive states to travel by air in Nigeria
Legit.ng reported that The National Bureau of Statistics has revealed that the cost of air travel within Nigeria increased by over 40% in one year, from June 2022 to June 2023.
The statistics agency stated this in its recent Transport Fare Watch report for June 2023.
According to NBS, the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes’ single journeys increased by 4.93% from N74,948.78 in May 2023 to N78,640.54 in June 2023.