• Monday, April 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Air Peace slashes Lagos-London route fare by 66%

Air Peace slashes London-Lagos fares by over 200%, sparks competition

Competition has commenced on the Lagos-London route as Nigeria’s largest carrier, Air Peace, has pegged its economy class ticket at N1.2 million, slashing fares by 66 percent on the route.

BusinessDay’s findings show that foreign airlines charge an average of N3.5 million for economy class tickets from Lagos to London.

British Airways, which had an exclusive advantage of operating direct flights from Lagos to London, now has Air Peace to contend with as the local carrier would operate flights from Lagos to Gatwick London.

Air Peace went live on Wednesday, with its flight schedules for its London service billed to commence on March 30, 2024.

According to the airline, a return economy class ticket goes for N1.2 million, while a return business class ticket sells for N4 million, and Nigerians studying in the UK can now access a special 15 percent rebate on the economy class fares.

The airline had announced a special fare for Nigerian students in the UK when it hosted travel agents in Lagos last week preparatory to the launch of the London route.

British Airways’ economy class return ticket from Lagos to London cost $2,698, or about N4.7 million, using the N1,778 to a dollar International Air Transport Association (IATA) rate on the airline ticketing platform. British Airways’ business class cost $8,598, or about N15.2 million.

For Virgin Atlantic, economy class ticket cost $1,745 or N3.1 million; economy delight cost $1,797 or almost N3.2 million, and economy premium cost $3,442 or N6.1 million.

Business class on Virgin Atlantic cost $7,578 or N13.5 million.

The economy class return tickets on Qatar Airways cost between $973 and $2,095, or N1.7 million–N3.2 million, depending on the ticket class.

The business class ticket on Qatar Airways cost between $3,826 and $4,757, or N6.8 million–N8.4 million.

Ndukwe Ogechi, CEO of Geena Travels And Tours Ltd, told BusinessDay that Air Peace’s fares are good, adding that she envisaged intense competition on the route soon.

“My clients are already excited, although they expected the fares to be cheaper since Air Peace is a Nigerian carrier and the foreign exchange pressure is not so much on them. However, IATA’s exchange rate on the platform as at Wednesday is N1,778 to a dollar, which is really high. This exchange rate will continue to be a key consideration when airlines fix prices,” Ogechi said.

She pointed out that on Monday, the exchange rate on the IATA platform was N1,805/$. This also pushed ticket prices up on Monday.

John Ojikutu, an industry expert and CEO of Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, said: “Competition has started. I hope that the foreign airlines and their multiple frequencies and destinations in our country can gradually get reduced.

“This is the beginning of the competition for scrapping the exploitation of the foreign airlines on the Bilateral Air Service Agreement routes. We hope those in the administration of our government and the management of the agencies will give the necessary support to Air Peace.”

Airfares in the last two years have risen by over 400 percent as a result of accumulating trapped funds of foreign airlines in Nigeria caused by the scarcity of foreign exchange in the country.

Last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria floated the naira after years of sticking with a hard peg that spooked investors and drained dollars from the economy.

For two years now, airlines blocked low ticket inventories, leaving high inventories to be sold in naira only, while the low ticket inventories on most airlines’ websites can only be bought with dollar cards only. This was in a bid to cushion the effect of their trapped funds in Nigeria.

Bankole Bernard, chairman of Airlines and Passengers’ Joint Committee of IATA, said Air Peace’s London flight is a welcome idea, especially as Nigeria would now have its own carrier.

He said: “There will be a bit of balance. Air Peace has been given a daily slot to Gatwick which amounts to seven frequencies, compared to 21 frequencies that the legacy airlines have; 14 in Lagos and seven in Abuja. To an extent, we have something that will balance it up.

“Air Peace is not going to be faced with challenges of foreign exchange because the fares will be in naira. It is a welcome idea for travel agents and Nigeria as a whole. We appeal to Air Peace to try its best to sustain the London route. We are willing to give them all the support to ensure this is successful. With Air Peace, travel agents envisage a 50 percent fare reduction.”

Oluwatoyin Olajide, chief operating officer at Air Peace, during the launch of the Lagos-London flight with travel agents, said the service will be operated with the airline’s Boeing 777 aircraft and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, one of the most modern and efficient aircraft in the skies.

She said the airline will be launching with special promo fares and attractive plans for agents.

“Operating daily, this service will also offer several other benefits which give Air Peace an edge over the competition. It’s a direct flight without stop-overs and offers unbeatable fares. The specifics of these offers and other unique selling points will be presented as this engagement progresses.”

London will be Air Peace’s seventh international destination since kicking off operations less than 10 years ago.

Air Peace currently leads Nigeria’s aviation industry with a rapidly expanding network of 21 domestic routes, 10 regional routes and 6 international destinations with a growing modern fleet of over 30 aircraft.