Marginal increase in airfares as flights resume at Lagos airport
There was marginal increase in airfares at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on Wednesday as domestic airlines returned to operations after almost five months of the lockdown of the airports and suspension of flights due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
At the local wing of the Lagos airport, airport workers including the security officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) defied the heavy downpour to take positions at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and the private terminal at the MMA2 to coordinate flight operations as early as 6.00 am.
At the GAT being managed by FAAN, Arik Air was the first to announce its return to operations with 7 o’clock morning flight described as impressive traffic load put at 85 per cent by the South West Regional Manager at the Lagos airport, Mrs Victoria Shinnaba.
Shinnaba, who expressed her excitement at the turnout of passengers, highlighted adequate efforts put on ground by FAAN to ensure health safety and other anti-COVID-19 measures were strictly complied with by passengers.
Shinnaba assured that all the measures already introduced will not be allowed to be compromised as the days go by.
Her words: “I am excited that the airspace is open. We are happy that everybody can now go back to their businesses. I want to assure Nigerians and travelling public that they are safe with us. The Arik flight that left for Abuja left with almost full capacity; people are eager to fly. I am sure the Air Peace flight which is the next will also carry a full load.”
Air Peace, another domestic carrier, operated its first flight out of Lagos to Abuja by 11.46 am carrying 106 passengers.
The difference in the timing of the flights was a deliberate measure introduced to ensure social distancing and avoid large concentration of passengers at the terminals at the same time.
At the MMA2 terminal, activities also picked up as Max Air operated its first flight out of Lagos to Abuja around 10am while Ibom Air was being prepared for its operations.
At the entrance leading to the GAT and the MMA2, passengers were made to queue up for screening and undergo health safety measures such as making use of hand sanitiser, checking of temperature and the disinfectant of their luggage before being allowed into the ticketing counter by the security officials.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune, Mr Wole Thompson, a passenger who arrived the GAT to purchase ticket to Abuja expressed happiness at the reopening of flight operations.
According to him, his happiness had to do with the trauma he had gone through since the lockdown of the airports which made his business at Abuja also collapse as he never liked the idea of travelling by road.
Equally, the apprehension earlier raised about the probability of the airlines charging higher fares was, however, absent as the airlines only increased fares within a little margin.
The Lagos Abuja flight which used to attract between N22,000 and N25,000 before the lockdown was only increased to N29,000 by some of the airlines as at this morning.
Meanwhile, another Nigerian carrier, Dana Air will hit the sky tomorrow, July 9 with its first flight to Abuja.
According to the image-maker of the airline, Kingsley Ezenwa, Dana Air will operate three daily flights from Lagos to Abuja and back while the date for the addition of Port Harcourt and Owerri will be announced later.
The airline, however, said there may not be much difference between the previous fares and the present one, for now, saying the Abuja flight which used to attract between N21,000 and N27,000 then, may be the same.
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