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[Opinion] My experience en route Abuja from Lagos: The need for regulation of the Aviation Industry in Nigeria

Since last year's sudden entry of the deadly coronavirus pandemic into our dear country and indeed the whole world, I have been very careful about leaving home. When things got a bit better, my first port of call was my local church, I had missed the lovely fellowship with my family. Even then, one was very cautious about mingling freely. However, the church ensured that all COVID-19 Protocols were strictly adhered too. Family gatherings and home visits has been a No No. As a matter of fact, I hardly leave my small ikorodu town for other parts of Lagos State, except for very cogent reasons, as I have made up my mind to remain safe. So traveling out of Lagos has been a No No for me, since I returned into the Country in January 2020.

Suddenly, something came up, an emergency and I had to immediately travel to Abuja, the Federal Capital City of my beloved Country. The only way is through the airways, as I was not ready to subject myself to the bad roads across the country, coupled with the high rate of insecurity in almost all the States. Subsequently, traveling by Road was most definitely a NO NO for me. Due to the nature of the reason for me to get to Abuja, and the urgency of the matter, I had no time to make an on line booking as I had to depart Lagos almost immediately. So I headed to the Muritala Mohammed Local Airport in Ikeja, with no confirmed travel tickets but armed with my ATM card and some few naira notes. Sadly though and due to the herculean traffic commuters leaving ikorodu face daily, I arrived the airport a little late, and hence could not board the early morning flights I had planned for, that made me leave home as early as 4.55am. So I checked for the next available flight to Abuja, and was I shocked at the airfares that i was faced with. A one hour One Way flight ticket from Lagos to Abuja ranged between 65,800naira to 80,500naira, as if that was not enough, I was told that most flights were fully booked, hence if I wanted to make the trip I needed to decide what to immediately. I recall that last year when I was to travel to traveled to Abuja in April, I had bought my return ticket on line in February 2020 for less than 60,000 naira. Same had to be refunded when the trip was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all related issues. Consequently, one begins to wonder why the sudden jump/hike in the local airfares to such an alarming rate of 160,000 for a Lagos Abuja Lagos round trip.

In my usual place, I asked some questions and the responses I got from airport workers and agents, apart from being revealing, is also scary and requires some urgent attention. Some of the opinion was that, most of the airlines have depleted the number of their aircrafts, while some of the aircrafts were grounded especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The implication of this is that, the airlines still operating are doing so with fewer number of aircrafts, hence the available aircrafts were currently being over used and this is not the best. As a result of this, there are so many flight rescheduling and cancelations. Consequently, to break even the airlines have hiked there prices, and as usual the common man must pay for this.

Furthermore, most of the airlines recorded some losses in 2020 due to the stoppage of flights and the restrictions due to the lockdown, in the country and accross the world, due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Finally, I am wondering if there is any organization saddled with the responsibility of actually monitoring the prices of flights, as well as the conditions of these airlines? Or the airlines have the sole responsibility to tinker with fares just like that? Are there safety measures put in place for the airlines and are these measure being monitored? Are the aircrafts being maintained and certified OK for commercial uses? Who is monitoring things? Recently we have heard some unpleasant reports of near accidents being prevented from happening? Are we just going to watch and wait until a major disaster happens?

When will we recover our Aviation sector and have a remarkable improvement in this sector? This is highly needed if we must move on to being called a developed nation. This is highly needed for a better nation, and we are long overdue for same. One recalls with deep nostalgia the days of the famous Nigerian airways and the glory it brought upon the nation.

On a lighter mood, when prices of goods and services go up in Nigeria, they hardly come down and they just keep soaring higher, And everyone just goes on as if it is business as usual. What happened to the various regulatory bodies saddled with this responsibility of seeing that, the lives and property of the Aviation sector are in safe hands?

This new price hike is not a good idea at all, and we all know that, traveling by road is not a good option/idea in view of the insecurity situation coupled with the bad roads across the country.

The experience is still very fresh in my mind. I. Decided to buy my return ticket which I would use in two days before leaving the airport in lagos, and I was shocked that the cheapest ticket I got for an Abuja Lagos trip was 55,800 Naira.

I hope someone is listening

Content created and supplied by: AAKosoko (via Opera News )

Abuja Aviation Industry COVID-19 Lagos Nigeria

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