By Chinelo Obogo, [email protected]
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries scheduled to take place from Saturday, May 28 to Sunday, May 30, in Abuja, have caused a spike in flight ticket sales and hotel bookings, Daily Sun can reveal.
This development comes after airlines experienced a slump in air traffic in the first quarter of 2022 after the 2021 Christmas festive period boost. The President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, attributed the slump in the first quarter of the year to the decision that domestic airlines took to increase the flight tickets to a minimum of N50,000 on all routes across the country.
She confirmed to Daily Sun that there has been a spike in ticket sales to Abuja this week but that it is not as much as it would have been in the past due to the high cost of fare. She said that in the past, individuals travelled very frequently but that it is no longer the case.
“We don’t have sales like we used to have in the past. The ticket sales for local travel has actually dropped because of the high cost. So now, we are not seeing much difference because it is only them that are travelling. There is a spike in travel no doubt but it is not as you would have experienced it before. You know, in the past, individuals who go about their business also travel and those coming from Dubai for instance also travel. But now individual’s travelling has reduced drastically, so there is enough room for those traveling for the primaries.
“Flight to Abuja and back is N100, 000, so what you are going for has to really be very important before you can travel. If for instance, you used to travel to Abuja for event like wedding, these days, you would say it is better to give the couple the N100, 000 instead of travelling.
“However, I can confirm that there has been some increase in ticket sales this week for flights to Abuja which I believe is because of the APC and PDP primaries,” she said. A look through the websites of some airlines where passengers can book online shows that many of the economy seats for May 27, 28 and 29 are sold out for flights from Lagos to Abuja and back. For instance, by the morning of Wednesday, May 25, Air Peace had sold out its Lagos to Abuja economy non-flexi domestic and Premiuim economy domestic seats for Friday, May 27 for 6.30am, 7.45am, 8.30am, 9.45am, 10.30am, 11.45am, 12.40pm, 13.35, 14.45, 15.00, 19.30 and 20.45 time slots.
For Tuesday, May 31, when the primary of both parties would have been over, most of the economy seats on Air Peace for flights from Abuja back Lagos are also sold out.
An insider in the airline confirms that in the first quarter of the year, there was a slump in traffic sales, saying in some instances, it was difficult to get a 60 percent load factor. However, the source said Air Peace has recorded over 20 percent hike in ticket sales this week for flights coming into Abuja from different parts of the country.
The Corporate Affairs Manager of Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, also confirmed that the airline has recorded an increase of over 10 percent in ticket sales for flights coming into Abuja. He said though most airlines experienced a slump in passenger traffic earlier in the year, ticket sales are improving. He, however, said that despite the challenge airlines are having with getting aviation fuel, Dana does not intend to transfer the high cost of purchasing jet A1 to its passengers.
For United Nigeria Air, by Wednesday, May 25, 11.30am flights from Anambra to Abuja for Friday, May 27 were already sold out, while flights from Abuja to Enugu for Tuesday, May 31 were sold out as well. Flights from Lagos to Abuja for Friday for 6.30am and 7.45am were also sold out and Abuja to Lagos flights for Tuesday, May 31 were sold out as well.
An insider in Arik Air told Daily Sun that the airline also suffered a slump in the early part of the year but this week, there was an increase of about 20 per cent in ticket sales compared to what they used to have.
The development is the same with hotels and guest houses in Abuja as by Wednesday, inquires made by Daily Sun to hotels in areas like Utako, Gwarinpa, Wuse and Games village indicated that most of them were fully booked.