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Lagos To London: Air Peace Flight Fare Sparks Price War

Foreign airlines have continued to reduce the price of tickets on the popular route to rival the price set by the indigenous Nigerian airline, Air Peace.


A file photo of an Air Peace plane

 

 

Foreign airlines have further slashed airfares on the Lagos-London route to compete with Air Peace, which recently commenced flight operations on the route.

Air Peace started direct flights from Lagos to London on March 30, pegging its price for a round-trip economy ticket at N1.2m on a route that foreign airlines had charged as much as N3m to fly passengers on.

The move by the Nigerian airline had seen foreign airlines cut their airfares to an average of ₦1.4m for a round-trip economy ticket last week, an action experts and stakeholders had anticipated.

Checks on Wednesday show that some foreign airlines have further slashed their price to an average of ₦841,732.

At the Central Bank of Nigeria’s exchange rate of N1246/$1, checks on prices by most of the flights, as of Wednesday, show that Egyptair has dropped its Lagos-London economy ticket price further to ($470) ₦585,620. Air Peace London to Lagos now goes for ($655) ₦816, 130, British Airways goes for ($787.99) ₦981, 848, Virgin Atlantic ($927.99) ₦1.1m, and Royal Air Moroc ($456.99) ₦569,422.

Also, RwandAir has pegged airfare to ($545.35) ₦679,070, Ethiopian Air ($543.84) ₦677, 824, Turkish Airlines ($647.84) ₦807, 408, Air France London ($915.99) ₦1.1m, while KLM pegged its price to ($927.84) ₦1.1m

The development follows price cuts by the airlines from as much as N3.5m between January and February 2024, to an average price of N1.4m last week.

Wednesday’s ticket prices were significantly lower than in the second half of last year and early this year. As of July last year, a one-way economy ticket from Lagos to London cost ₦2.7m at a conversion rate of ₦907 per dollar at the time.

In the first week of April this year, a one-way ticket cost between ₦1.03m and ₦1.3m despite the exchange rates being higher at ₦1,250 per dollar.

‘Conspiracy’ Against Air Peace?

The ‘price war’ that followed the commencement of Air Peace operations had been anticipated by some experts who believed that the foreign airlines would not just sit back and allow Air Peace to dominate flights on the route.

A travel and tourism expert and former President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, who was a guest on Channels Television’s The Morning Brief on Tuesday, last week, had accused foreign airlines operating in the four major airports in Nigeria of making more than enough profit, unchallenged.

The four major gateways are Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano.

“How come all of a sudden airfares have gone down? What could be responsible for that? Number one: there is a new entrant to a major route (Lagos-London),” Bernard said.

“There are two major destinations that Nigerians ply. Number one is Dubai and Dubai has been out of it for a while now (due to visa restrictions). So, we (Nigerians) have resorted to the London route. The UK route is where a lot (of foreign carriers) use to earmark their airfares.

“Now that Air Peace has come into that space with a direct flight that will not cause any layover in any other country, the price has dropped. Why? What happened? Is there a magic around that? We should be able to question what made the prices drop.

“The prices will drop as long as we have another form of supply that is different from the conventional ones. The supply that we now have — that is Air Peace, which is a direct flight — will put pressure on every other route. So, all the other airlines are forced to adjust quickly or they will be out of the market in no time.”

The Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, however, believes the foreign airlines are conspiring to force him out of international operations by crashing airfares on the route.

 

 

There is an “unspoken alliance” among foreign airlines to use lower pricing to eject Air Peace from the Nigeria-London route, alleged a visibly displeased Onyema on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday.

“If they take out Air Peace prematurely, this country will pay dearly for it, 10 times over; billions will be lost, (and) there will be another heavy strain on the naira,” he said.

The Air peace boss said foreign airlines operating the route “are fighting back”.

“We are being deliberately frustrated in all ways,” he said, citing ground handling and space allocation difficulties at Gatwick Airport in the last couple of days.

“It’s a very devilish conspiracy. All of a sudden, (foreign) airlines are under-pricing, below the cost, it’s not up to one month, an airline was advertising $100, another one $305, $350. Fill up the entire aircraft and carry people on the wings, it’s not even enough to buy your fuel. So, why are they doing that? Their governments are supporting them because Nigeria has been a cash cow for everybody.

“Their governments are supporting them to do this and take Air Peace out. The idea is to take Air Peace out and the moment they succeed in taking Air Peace out, Nigerians will pay 20 times over again.”

However, the President of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), Kingsley Nwokoma, told Channels Television that foreign airlines were happy with Air Peace for venturing into the Lagos-London route. He believes that foreign airlines should also sell tickets at lower prices.

“AFARN congratulates Air Peace Airlines on its recent bold milestone for venturing into the Lagos- London route and wishes more Nigerian carriers can explore the same option for more international routes,” he said.

Nwokoma added that while foreign airlines seek collaboration, the association would continue to encourage foreign airlines to cut prices.

“We want to state that collaboration and alliances are key in world aviation. No one airline can do it alone. We will continue to seek this collaboration amongst operators. Similarly, AFARN also encourages foreign airlines to start selling low-inventory tickets to the flying public. This will not only boost the business in the industry but would increase the number of air passengers,” he said.

The current president of NANTA, Susan Akporiaye, said in a recent interview that further airfare reductions were anticipated in conjunction with a decline in the exchange rate. This, she expects, will significantly boost activities.

“The airfares are already coming down with the airline’s rate of exchange reducing to ₦1,300 as against ₦1,700 and ₦1,800. The fare that was over ₦2m is now around ₦1m. We know that the exchange rate is also a major part of it and, of course, Air Peace’s coming in,” she said.

Like Akporiaye, a travel expert and publisher of Travelogue, Ayo Omotosho, believes that the drop in flight fare cost is due to efforts by the CBN to stabilise the economy and the action of Air Peace boss, Allen Onyema.

He said, “Lagos to London takes nothing less than six hours which should ordinarily cost about N200,000, but today, the lowest price went for about N2m. So, that was what Dr Onyema saw and came to address. I don’t think the federal government is paying him any form of subsidy because this is a level-playing market.

“During the last administration, CBN did not allow foreign airlines to repatriate their funds, which I don’t think was fair. It is a free market, so, they decided to increase their fares. This was probably part of the reasons why Airlines like Emirates and Qatar barred Nigerians from coming to their countries.

“So, the administration of Tinubu saw this and decided to review it. Thes trick was just putting some policies in place to crash foreign exchange rates. It was even as bad as people going to the Bureau De Change to buy dollars at cheaper prices and resell them at higher prices. But now, policies are being put in place to correct all the anomalies,” he said.

Nigerians React

Nigerians on social media have continued to pledge support for Air Peace despite foreign airlines slashing airfares below that of the local airline operator.

On Facebook, Sarah Orwoufiniere Alfred said, “We will still choose Air Peace over them”.

Another user, Felagha Tari, wrote, “We die with Air Peace, God bless Dr. Onyeama, long live Air Peace”.

“Air peace remains,” said Ejiata Ejiata, in response to the price cut by foreign airlines.

For Alexander Gerard D’great Ogasele, “The day Naija wakes up, the Western world will learn to respect us”.

Boye Soyemi believes that Air Peace has brought in needed competition.

“A marketing without competitors is always neck-breaking & threatening; welcome once again Air Peace!” Soyemi wrote.

Ja’usman Faisal said, “If they like let them make it N20,000 to London, I will choose AIR PEACE of N2,000,000”, while DeBlessed Nnamdi: “Until their price drop to 100k I won’t leave Air Peace.”