Passengers flying domestic routes are forced to pay more in taxes and surcharges than the actual cost of the flight ticket, investigations by Daily Trust have revealed.
An analysis of the cost of tickets of major domestic airlines indicated that on some airlines, passengers paid up to 64 percent of the total cost as surcharges and taxes among others.
Already, there are outcries over high cost of airlines tickets for passengers flying domestic routes which the operators attributed to too much charges and fees payable to the regulators.
A breakdown of flight ticket on the domestic routes gives the components of air fare which include the base fare, surcharges, taxes, and service fees, among others. In most cases, the surcharges are higher than the actual fare.
The airlines operating on the domestic routes include Aero Contractors, Arik Air, Dana Air, Med-View, Air Peace, First Nation, Azman and Overland.
An analysis of Air Peace return economy ticket from Abuja to Lagos showed that the total cost is N50,164 but only N18,400, equivalent to 36.6 percent of the total cost is charged for the ticket fare, with the remaining N31,764 or 63.4 percent going as either surcharges, taxes or fees.
In the case of Arik Air, the return economy ticket from same route indicated that out of the total ticket cost of N46,744 only N10,646 or 22.8 percent as airlines ticket fare, the remaining N36,068 or 77 percent is either taxes, fees or surcharges.
Many passengers who spoke to Daily Trust accuse airlines of secretly fleecing them by hiding the surcharges that were not explained.
Asabe Daudu, who said she is a frequent air passenger, told our reporter that the airlines and the authorities were taking advantage of the high demand for air transport due to the dilapidated roads and insecurity along Nigerian highways.
She said in the advanced world travelling by air was not a privilege but necessity therefore passengers were first taken into consideration before any other thing, but in Nigeria too much taxes are placed on air travellers because it is considered a luxury.
Mr Samuel John, a businessman who also frequently travels by air said it was not fair to be charging passengers higher taxes than the ticket fare. He said government needs to encourage air travellers in order to attract traffic for more airlines to grow rather than discourage flying.
He said in most countries, tickets were relatively cheap compared to what obtained in Nigeria.
However, the airlines operators have also joined in condemning the high taxes paid to government agencies, saying when the taxes were deducted, they were left with little or nothing as profit.
Chairman of Air Peace, Barr. Allen Onyema, during a recent aviation roundtable, attributed the taxes paid on air tickets to the inability of some airlines to meet their salary obligations.
Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi told Daily Trust that the taxes and charges payable to government were usually clearly defined on the ticket, adding that fuel surcharges also formed part of the add-on charges.
The popular taxes are the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) paid to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on each passenger; the Ticket Sale Charge (TSC) which is shared by all aviation agencies including the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
There is also the over flight charge, navigation and landing fees paid to NAMA and fuel surcharge among others.”These are the charges that make up the surcharge as contained in the cost of ticket”, says an airline official who would not want to be named.
A spokesperson of Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Okwudili, also confirmed the development but denied that airlines were exploiting passengers.
“You are all familiar with these charges. These are the components of the surcharges you are talking about. Of course we can begin to indicate that in the ticket, it would not be proper. So the issue of shortchanging passengers does not arise”, he said.
The NCAA insists that air fares are liberalized even as they said any fare increase must be duly approved by it.
Spokesman of the agency, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, referred our correspondent to a recent statement issued on the air fares, saying the position has not changed.
According to the statement, “air fares and sundry charges have been statutorily deregulated and subjected to market forces.”
This, according to experts, implies that airlines are allowed to fix their fares in accordance with market forces; building into the ticket fares the various sundry charges - fuel surcharge, among others - which would enable them to break even.