“No longer N6.5 Million”: Nigerians seeking travel to the US, UK, and Others contend for N16 million tickets

Nigerians planning to travel to destiinations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and various other countries are now battling to pay escalating amounts on the same plane, a new report claims.

The report reveals that travelers often pay substantially more for tickets on the same flights, with certain VIPs vying for premium accommodations.

According to the report, a business class ticket for a flight from Abuja to the US via Ethiopian Airlines can take as much as N15.6 million. In contrast, passengers traveling in the economy class on the same aircraft are charged approximately N1.2 million.

The demand for these N15.6 million tickets is notably high, while the available seats are significantly limited. Passengers opting for British Airways, on the other hand, may find themselves paying around N16 million for first-class tickets and N9 million for business-class tickets on identical flights. Economy class seats on the same aircraft cost roughly N6.4 million.

The soaring prices of air tickets can be attributed to the devaluation of the Nigerian Naira, as international air travel is predominantly priced in US Dollars. This devaluation has led to an increase in travel expenses.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) implemented a devaluation of the Naira and unified exchange rate windows on June 14, 2023.

Analysts argue that this decision has exacerbated Nigeria’s foreign exchange challenges, further weakening the Naira and driving up inflation rates. One of the repercussions has been the significant rise in the cost of international airfare.

In the parallel market, the local currency now trades at approximately N1,000 to one US Dollar, contributing to the surge in air travel costs. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) established the exchange rate for air tickets in Nigeria at N851 per US Dollar.

While many Nigerian travelers have expressed frustration with the exorbitant cost of air travel, it appears that those flying first-class or business-class have less concern about the prices they pay.

It is worth noting that a significant portion of first-class and business-class travelers consists of politicians.

For instance, a round-trip economy class ticket on British Airways to the United Kingdom reportedly costs around N4.1 million, while a first-class ticket on the same flight is priced at N11.4 million.

Travel consultant Ayo disclosed that first-class tickets are typically the first to be sold out. In instances where they are unavailable, passengers may request flight cancellations until first-class seats become available. Ayo also pointed out that Nigerian politicians are often among the first-class and business-class travelers.

He cited the recent trip by Nigerian officials to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where all delegates traveled in first-class accommodations.

Additionally, top executives of various organizations, including CEOs of companies and Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos), often opt for first-class or business-class tickets, which can cost anywhere from N12 to N16 million on the same flights as those with economy class fares as low as N1.3 million.