Unless passengers plan to travel without luggage on Green Africa, they may be paying just as much as others pay for other airlines in Nigeria or even more.
Against assumptions that Green Africa is the cheapest domestic carrier in Nigeria, there are indications that the airline is introducing certain strategies to cushion effects of cost on its operations.
The airline had announced flight operations with N16,500 ticket fare, showing a 70 percent slash in airfares. Stakeholders had predicted that these fares may not be sustainable considering the cost airlines incur to operate an average flight.
Others had said the N16,500 airfares was just a promotional fare by Green Africa to appeal to passengers not used to flying a propeller aircraft and who are yet to experience the airline for the first time.
An unsatisfied passenger who had flown with the airline last week took to social media to express his grievances.
The passenger, who identified himself as Wanger Barnabas Akaazua, disclosed that he felt cheated for the first time he flew the airline.
“If anyone told you this airline is cheap then they don’t know the truth about this airline. They’ve painted a picture that they’re affordable but in the actual sense they are one of the most expensive,” he stated.
According to Akaazua, there are so many hidden charges that are only revealed at the counter and not included anywhere on their website.
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“What they don’t tell you is that you are entitled to only 7kg (both hand luggage and baggage). So, for every extra 1kg you pay N600.
“Imagine travelling with your family. For a flight of N25,000 I was made to pay an extra N10,000. Even hand luggage is weighed. How will I pay N25,000 and be entitled to only 7kg? That’s how I ended up paying N35,500 when Air Peace was N30,000,” the passenger lamented.
He disclosed that at least 10 first-time flyers expressed their displeasure over the same issue, adding that passengers feel deceived and cheated.
Less than one week into its inaugural flight, the airline is gradually indirectly adjusting air fares to suit the business realities as it introduced different ticket classes.
The three Green Africa products include gSaver, gClassic, gflex. With these ticket classes, passengers pay different prices depending on the amount of luggage they carry.
According to the airline, “Depending on your reason to fly and preference, you can choose the products that suit your pockets and needs.”
The airline says the gSaver plan is for the happy-go-lucky gFlyer. “If all you have got is your hand luggage and you have no preference on where to sit, simply buy a gSaver ticket.”
It further explains that with a gSaver ticket, travellers are entitled to free 7kg hand luggage, N10,000 for infants and 10kg infant baggage allowance.
For gClassic, the airline states, “For the Classic gFlyer who likes some extra, be sure to purchase the gClassic ticket and enjoy everything you get on gSaver plus 15kg checked in luggage, free seat collection, free online check-in.”
For gFlex, the airline says travellers can make changes and choices at no extra cost. In this ticket class, passengers can enjoy all benefits in gClassic, pay only fare difference when passengers make changes on flight time and date, free 20kg checked in baggage, tickets value reusable when passengers cancel flights up to three hours to flight time.
Experts say these strategies mean the airline is exploring to ensure their charges are commensurate with their operating costs. It cost airlines between $500,000 to $1 million to carry out mandatory C-checks on their aircraft every 18 months.
BusinessDay’s checks show that it cost not less than N2 million to operate a one-way flight using a Boeing 737 aircraft. Aviation fuel costs about N220 per litre and operators would need not less than 8,000ltr (N1.7m) to operate a one-way Lagos – Abuja flight.
In addition, operators need to pay for landing and parking fees, ground handling fees, en route air navigation services, catering, among others.
Aviation analysts say when airlines charge passengers less than N40,000 for a one-way flight, they are operating at a loss or relying on government intervention funds, palliatives or concession on recurring debts.
However, some industry experts had argued that Green Africa operates ATR 72-600, which are generally cheaper to maintain than the 737s, CRJs and other aircraft operated by local airlines. Operations cost is generally cheaper and that is probably why ticket costs are expected to be cheaper.