NCAA should be more proactive while welcoming new airlines,
As bad as year 2020 with the spiraling effects still continuing in /2021 seemed to be, especially to aviation business courtesy of the deadly coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, one good news is that the business of flying, though being the most badly hit, but is gradually picking up again.
The sector is still far from being there, but all hope is not lost as the business is still being kept very much alive by the resilience of airlines across the world including the Nigerian carriers.
While most people were almost predicting doomsday for the Nigeria’s airline domestic scene due to the negative impact of the pandemic, hope was rekindled with the news of new airlines coming to join the existing ones that had been battered by the pandemic.
Amongst the new entrant airlines that have launched itself into the system include the United Africa Airlines while the Green Africa Airways is almost at the edge of completing all the needed requirements that will launch it into the business.
In addition to these two, the much talked about national carrier in the offing while the Akwa Ibom State owned carrier, Ibom Air has also brought a great respite to domestic airline business.
One good news about the coming of more domestic airlines is the greater opportunities that await the traveling public who had before now almost given up on air transport due to many reasons ranging from high fares, shortage of airlines, non availability of seats onboard the few existing airlines to frustrations brought upon travellers as witnessed in the numbers of flights delays and subsequent cancellations.
At this point while many who could not afford the fares had already taken solace in other means of transport like rail and road as insecured as they may be compared to the safer and faster critical advantages available in air transport until the new airlines came to change the narratives.
All these challenges painted the future of domestic airlines in a bleak perspective that even when the news about new airlines hit the airwaves, the atmosphere was still laced with doubt and hopelessness.
However, what seems like a joke has become a reality that Nigeria’s domestic airline business is too strong to give way to the challenges of pandemic and other economic hardship after all.
Presently, with the resilience of airlines like Air Peace, Dana, Ibom Air and even the struggling Arik and Aero Contractors as witnessed in the more generational and cost effective aircraft they are bringing into the system with icing on the cake being the coming of newer airlines, there seems to be a brighter light at the end of the tunnel.
Like the adage which says the ‘more the merrier’, the increase in the number of domestic airlines has brought a great relief to the passengers who now, not only have choices to make, but are now enjoying lower fares.
From investigations, many of the airlines out of fear of being pushed out of the market by others have decided to crash their fares to more affordable rates.
For example, hitherto the pandemic, a one hour flight between Lagos and Abuja that used to cost between N20,000 and N32,000 depending on the airline and the availability of seats, but got increased to between N75,000 and N100, 000 again depending on the airline and availability of seats following the outbreak of the pandemic and the introduction of tighter measures to flight operations, has now dropped to between N26,000 and N35,000.
To say better days are ahead for domestic airline passengers cannot be an understatement in view of the crash in fares by the competitive airlines.
While welcoming the new airlines, the Crucial Moment is calling on the regulatory agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in particular not to get carried away with the positive atmosphere, but always remember to beam its searchlight on the airlines to ensure that in their bid to encourage competition do not lower the standard of safety. Without doubt, domestic airline business is gradually picking up to the advantage of air travelers.
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