The continuous depreciation of the naira against the United States dollar has led to a significant rise in airfares for major international routes, making frequent flyers from Nigeria to pay more for flights overseas.
The naira is currently exchanging at about N192 to a dollar at the black market and N185 at the interbank market, which has affected airfares for flights to destinations outside the country, which are usually charged in dollars.
Findings by our correspondent on Wednesday showed that fares to some major international destinations from Nigeria had risen.
For instance, a direct return flight from Lagos to Dubai, which previously cost about N110,000, now goes for about N150,000, a difference of 36.3 percent.
A frequent traveller, Mrs. Lovelyn Iwang, who plans to travel to London by the weekend, told our correspondent that the fare for the flight had gone up significantly.
She said, “I have just booked a direct flight to London for this weekend and I was surprised to note that a flight for which I normally paid between N180,000 and N200,000 is now going for N240,000, an increase of 26.3 per cent. When I asked around, I was told that it is as a result of the increase in the value of the dollar as against the Naira.
“It begins to be worrisome because we are still at the low season when airfares are supposed to be cheaper due to light traffic; I wonder what the fares will be during the peak period.”
Even a Lagos to Johannesburg return ticket, which used to cost N120,000, now goes for about N155,000, indicating a rise of 29.1 percent.
The Chief Executive Officer, Gadeshire Travels and Tours Limited, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who confirmed the rise in the airfares for foreign destinations, said that it was expected that the devaluation of the naira would affect the prices of the tickets, explaining that there had been a slight difference in the amounts charged by the airlines for international flights.
“The naira devaluation is surely affecting airfares, especially on foreign routes. You know that most of the foreign airline operators charge their fares in dollars before converting to the naira values for Nigerian passengers.
“Previously, the rate was between N165 and N175 to a dollar, but now, that has risen to between N185 and N190. You can imagine that rise and how it can translate into higher fares. The fact, however, remains that the change is not too obvious yet, it will become much more obvious when the peak season begins towards the end of March as that is when more people travel and that is when the real effect of this will be obvious”, Adebayo stated.
A travel agent, Mr. Tomi Adeyanju, said that passengers could help themselves to reduce the effect of the naira devaluation on their purse by booking early for their foreign trips.
He said, “It is not possible to expect that the devaluation of the currency will not affect airfares; even when the situation is normal in Nigeria, the prices of things still go up, let alone of a situation as this.
“My advice is that people should plan their trips far ahead and try to ensure they book online and on time for such trips; this will help to reduce the effect on the passengers”.