Despite assurance by the Federal Government that air fare will not increase when flights resume, plans by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to increase Passenger Service Charge (PSC) from August 1, 2020 has been revealed.
A letter signed by the managing director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu and addressed to the Airline Operators Committee states that it will increase the PSC from N1, 000 to N2000 for domestic airlines and US $50 to US$ 100 for international travel.
This is in stark contrast to the recent statement by the Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, that prices or airfare will not increase. Airlines were already preparing the minds of passengers to a price hike if the proposal to remove middle seats when flights resume is implemented.
Sirika had through the ministry of aviation twitter handle assured air travellers in the country that ticket prices may not rise when the sector resumes.
The ministry on its twitter handle said: “Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika assures Nigerians that the expected re-opening of the airspace for domestic flight may not necessarily lead to a hike in fares.
“We are doing everything to ensure that ticket prices do not skyrocket. They may be different but they are not going to be something that air passengers cannot afford.”
But the letter from FAAN titled Implementation of the Approved New Passenger service Charge (PSC) Effective August 1, 2020 read in part, “I wish to inform you of our intention to commence implementation of the new Passenger service Charge (PSC) increment from N1, 000 (One Thousand Naira) to N2,000 (Two Thousand Naira) for PSC domestic and US$ 50 (Fifty Dollars) to US$ 100 (One Hundred Dollars) for international effective August 1, 2020.
“This is premised on the approval for the increment given by the Minister of Aviation in the attached letter referenced FMT/FMA/COM/T/69 dated 3rd August 2017 which was sought with the intention to improve and upgrade the airport infrastructure among others.
“We recently informed the Minister of Aviation of our intention to commence the implementation effective August 1, 2020,” the FAAN boss said.
According to Yadudu, the Airports managers have engaged the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and relevant stakeholders which had delayed the implementation from 2017 till date.
The FAAN boss went further to state that the cap on the value of the PSC is simply outdated as the last review of PSC on domestic route from N350 to N1000 and from $35 to $50 on the international route was on 21 March 2011 and May 1, 2011 respectively.
The letter further referred that Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited operators of the MMA2 for years have been charging N2500 on its PSC and despite the operating PSC some domestic airlines still moved from the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) to the MMA2 because of FAAN’s inability to expand the GAT.
“This does not correlate with the prevailing economic situation and the index to meet with the needs of today and future growth of passenger traffic and airport development, most especially for the airport to upgrade post-COVID-19.
“This increase, therefore, affords FAAN the needed funds to upgrade our facilities to accommodate new airlines including the anticipated national carrier,” he said.
Airline operators have opposed this development.
The Managing Director, Quorum Aviation, Abiola Lawal, said the timing for the implementation of the new regime is wrong considering the negative effects of the Corona pandemic.
“In this pandemic and economic hard time? Is this the right time for FAAN or any agency to be increasing statutory fees? Rather this should be time to reduce the high cost of operations in Nigeria and to encourage air travels.
“And the increase is not a single digit increase. It is 100 per cent. Domestic from N1000 to N2000 and foreign from $50 to $100. These are massive increases and really should be revisited. And to think this is being proposed for implementation in less than two months in August is very concerning,” Lawal said.
In a related development, the Director-General of the NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, has warned that airlines have not been authorised to conduct test run flights in the country’s airspace
Capt. Nuhu said that airlines who conducted shakedown flights during the course of the week had violated the regulator’s guidelines.
He stated this at a webinar on Thursday regarding the status of the industry restart plan.
He said, “Airlines must make our work easier. No airline was authorised to do test run flight. It is creating problems for us.
“The airlines know who they are and they should desist from that. You have violated the terms. The airlines must comply with all the guidelines. I see airlines that have already sold tickets to customers. It is illegal. You cannot restart flights till you get approval.”