Obiora Okonkwo, the spokesperson for the Airline Operators of Nigeria and Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, has indicated that due to the escalating operational costs, passengers might soon have to pay as much as N250,000 for an air ticket from Lagos to Abuja.
Speaking during an interview on Arise TV, Okonkwo emphasized the significant financial strains faced by local airline operators. He stated, “If you think tickets are expensive, then you probably don’t appreciate the sacrifices made by local operators. If we have to charge fares based on the escalating costs, we should be looking at a figure not less than N250,000 for a trip from Lagos to Abuja.”
In addition to his role as Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Okonkwo underscored the pressing need for local airlines to have access to foreign exchange through a designated channel facilitated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He called on the newly appointed Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, to collaborate with other governmental bodies to identify and rectify obstructive elements within the system that exacerbate the existing challenges.
Addressing the issue of foreign exchange availability, Okonkwo remarked, “You have naira and you can’t convert it to the dollar. So, the solution to this is for our minister to understand that we need a special window with the CBN to access foreign exchange.”
Okonkwo expressed concern about the unjustifiably high cost of aviation fuel, attributing the excess charges to speculative practices. He urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to play a role in stabilizing the industry by curbing these speculative behaviors.
He elaborated, “There is no reason, regardless of the international price of crude oil, for aviation fuel to be priced at the pump for more than N500. Any extra cost is a result of speculation, and I am calling on NNPCL staff to contribute to liberating this country.”
He concluded by highlighting the significance of the aviation industry, noting that it’s no longer limited to the affluent but has become a crucial means of transportation for everyone.
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