Air Travellers Welcome Healthy Competition Along Lagos-Uyo Route
Fred Omotara, Lagos
Air travellers have welcomed a healthy competition along all domestic routes in Nigeria, warning that passengers are the worst hit when a single airline is allowed to monopolize a domestic route in the country.
Recall that for months, only Ibom Airline plied the Lagos-Uyo route while other airlines preferred to do Lagos-Port Harcourt instead of the Lagos-Uyo route.
Speaking with kadecommunicationng exclusively following the return of Air Peace to Uyo, some air travellers lamented that Ibom Airline fixed charges arbitrarily during the brief period the airline was the only airline plying the Uyo route.
According to Barrister Chuks Nwafor, “It’s a welcome development that Air Peace is back in Uyo. When there is competition, passengers who are the customers are kings because there is freedom of choice.
“There was a period when only Ibom Airline flew Lagos-Uyo. During this period, air travellers had limited choices. There was no alternative to the air fares that Ibom Airline fixes. It’s either you fly Ibom Air or you fly to Port Harcourt and then take a bus to Uyo.
“The charges by Ibom Airline, to me, was occasionally on the high side. I felt this was so because the airline was enjoying a monopoly to Uyo.
“Now that Air Peace is back along that route, I expect a crash in air fares. I just flew Air Peace to Uyo at N55,500. I can’t remember the last time I flew to Uyo from Lagos for that amount. The air fares used to be around N75,000 or even N85,000 from Lagos to Uyo via Ibom Airline.
“When I checked Air Peace and saw N55,500, I didn’t believe my eyes. You see the benefits of competition? With time, Ibom Airline will adjust it’s fares because for me, they are currently losing customers to Air Peace that just joined the route.”
Also speaking with kadecommunicationng, Mrs. Kemi Osho, a civil servant based in Lagos explained that the suspension of some airlines led to a monopoly by Ibom Airline along the Lagos to Uyo route.
“Dana Airline was suspended, if you remember. Before Dana Airline suspension, there was a time the airline was doing Lagos-Uyo. Then I used to book return trips on Lagos-Uyo with N65,000 or N75,000. After a while, Dana Airline stopped flying to Uyo and only did Lagos-Port Harcourt. So I was forced to be flying Lagos-Uyo with Ibom Airline. Sometimes a return trip can be as high as N145,000 or even more. It was tough for me, but I had no choice.
“A friend later told me that Dana Airline is considering coming back to Uyo. We were eagerly awaiting that news only to hear in July this year that the airline had been suspended by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“The airline is back in operations now but still doing Lagos-Port Harcourt. It’s good news that Air Peace is now doing Lagos-Uyo. If Dana Airline later joins, it will help in finally balancing the air fares. Nothing good comes out of a monopoly. Ibom Airline was taken air travellers to the cleaners with arbitrary air fare charges during the brief period it ran a monopoly along the Lagos-Uyo route. We need more airlines along that route.
“As a civil servant, I occasionally have to be in Uyo because of official engagement. It doesn’t always look good when I don’t have a choice of airlines to fly. Before, it’s either I fly Ibom Airline or I go by road. With the level of insecurity in the country today, going by road is not always a choice for me anymore, even if it’s from Port Harcourt to Uyo.
“I will urge more airlines to come into the Lagos-Uyo route to ensure a healthy and competitive air fares for air travellers.”