Abuja - Some passengers on Wednesday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, complained about the disparity in ticket fares on domestic routes of some airlines in the country.
Some of the passengers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the airlines sell their tickets at different rates with between 30 and 50 per cent difference on tickets of the same route.
Dr Esosa Erewele, a passenger of Aero Airline from Lagos to Abuja told NAN that he bought his ticket for N25 000 at the airport while his wife’s ticket was sold at N33 000 - an increase of N8 000.
"I bought my ticket for N25 000 while my wife's ticket was sold for N33 000. The gap is too much, I can't understand the reason and the airline has failed to tell us the reason but we just had to travel," he said.
Mr Mike Iwuoba also lamented the high rates, saying that some of the airlines had even increased prices by about 20 to 50 per cent.
Another passenger, Miss Helen Odogu, a former air hostess said that the rate of corruption in the aviation sector was increasing daily.
She blamed the problems on the airlines for still allowing some of the retired airline and airport staff members to operate at the airport.
"Some old staff members get tickets from the airlines under different names and re-sell them to passengers at very high rates.
"The airlines ought to have a board that will show the ticket fare each time and cross check with the online bookings to confirm the name of the travelling passenger before they are allowed to get their boarding pass.
"The airport authorities are also lagging behind in the performance of their duties. I believe that if any of the airlines had been penalised for such acts, others will sit up" Odogu said.
Michael Akubude, who was on an Arik air flight from Lagos to Abuja said that the disparity was much, adding that he opted for a business class ticket instead of economy because of the difference.
"I entered N30 000 when I travelled to Lagos on economy class but for the return trip today, they said the ticket was N38 000 while the business class was N49, 166, I decided to opt for the later," he said.
Mr Muyiwa Adesanya, an IRS Airline Manager at the airport refuted the allegation, saying that the company only reviewed its fare from N24 000 to N28 000 on the economy class to Lagos in June.
He said that on the Kano route, the maximum cost of ticket on economy class was N25 000 against N20 000 before the increase in June, adding that the business class fare on all the local routes was stable at maximum of N45 000.
Adesanyan said that IRS had flexible rates for passengers who book earlier for a period of at least two weeks before the travelling date and that the price was reduced compared to when buying on the travelling time.
"The problems are from the people who like to buy ticket without passing through due process by either buying directly from the airline at the airport or online booking but some prefer patronising touts at the airports.
"We don’t board people without a document like international passport, valid identity card or a driver's license in order to ensure that a passenger is not checked-in under another person's name.
"It is high time people stopped patronising touts and report to the right authorities any airline found cooperating with such touts.
Mr Mohammed Abani, the Manager of Arik Air declined speaking on the matter, saying that the airline had warned its staff against granting press interviews.
One of Arik Airline’s staff members, who requested anonymity told NAN that the airline had increased its rate since most airlines stopped operating.
Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the spokesperson of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that the issue was being looked into holistically by the authorities and the National Assembly Committee on Aviation.
She said that the report of exorbitant price of local airline tickets had reached the NASS, adding that investigations were on to know which airlines increased their fares without any reasonable cause.
Yakubu told NAN that most of the airlines were not operating on the domestic routes except Arik, IRS, Overland and Aero due to service checks and repairs.
NAN recalls that Princess Stella Oduah, the Minister of Aviation during the African Union conference on aviation safety, said that any aircraft older than 15 years in operation would not be allowed to fly in Nigeria’s Airspace by 2015.