There has been a tremendous upsurge in the air passengers volume at the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, leading to a astronomic hike in fares ahead ofChristmas and New Year celebrations.
The Federal Government had declared Dec. 25 and 26 and Jan. 1,, 2019 as public holidays to mark the festive period.
A visit to the MMA2 and the general Aviation Terminal at the local section of the Lagos gateway revealed an influx of outbound and inbound passengers heading to various destinations.
Many passengers were seen on long queues, waiting to board flights, while others waited patiently to pick up their luggage on arrival.
Several travellers were also seen struggling to get seats on the few available flights to their various destinations across the country, leading to increment in air fares.
For instance, an air ticket from Lagos to Kano, which hitherto sold for between N30,500 and 32,000, rose to about N45,000 and N47,000.
Flights from Lagos to Abuja, which normally cost between N27,000 and N32,000, depending on the airline and the time of flight, also went for N45,000 and above.
Enquiry revealed that there were no flight tickets available on the Lagos-Benin and Lagos-Port Harcourt routes as all the seats had been booked since the previous week.
It was also observed that most of the flights that had their fares increased were heading for the northern part of the country.
The Air Peace and Arik Airlines check-in counter had the longest queues of passengers at the General Aviation Terminal, while Dana Air and Max Air also had the longest queues at the MMA2.
A passenger, Mary Orishagbemi, who was travelling to Abuja, said she had purchased tickets for the flight from Lagos the previous week.
Orishagbemi, however, said that she got to the airport a few minutes after the first boarding call, but was denied access to the plane on the excuse that she was late. “I was surprised to get here only to learn that I was late.
“My flight was scheduled for 12:30p.m., and I got here at 10.30 a.m. because of traffic, but the airline’s officials did not check me in. They said I was late; I had to run around to raise extra money to pay in order to be able to go with the next available flight. I think it is rather unfair, because I should still have been allowed to get on the plane,’’ she lamented.
Another passenger, sunkanmi Saliu, who was heading to Enugu, also decried the way the airlines were operating. He said, “It is funny how things operate here. This is a time to share and not to exploit your passengers.”
According to him, domestic airlines should learn to introduce low cost promotional fares to attract travellers instead of exploiting passengers as a result of the season. He decried the dearth of government-owned airlines, saying the few ones that were privately-owned were cashing in on the development at the detriment of their customers.
Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it had put all the necessary measures in place to meet up with the increase of passengers’ traffic during the yuletide.
FAAN, in a statement by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, assured all airport users that Nigerian airports under its management are fully ready to play host to all air travellers.
Yakubu advised the general public and intending travellers to make early preparations to enable them complete their travel requirements in good time.
By Gboyega Adeoye