Air Travel Rebounds, Travellers Rebook Cancelled Flights

  • Demand raises fares




The removal of 11 African countries from the United Kingdom’s (UK) infamous travel list is witnessing a sharp return to air travel by Nigerians as airlines record a huge surge in travel bookings to Nigeria and to the UK. The British Government yesterday removed all the countries, including Nigeria, from the UK’s travel Red List.

The removal took effect from 4 am. It was learnt that the decision to quickly review the ban, rather than wait for December 20, was a result of global pressure, especially from Nigeria and South Africa, who viewed the red listing as politically motivated

There are indications that there is a surge in travel bookings from many Nigerians who had earlier cancelled their flights as a result of the face-off between Nigeria and the UK over the decision by London to restrict Nigerians from travelling to the UK.

The lifting of the travel ban led to what a travel agent who spoke to Aviation Metric described as a ‘mad rush’ to make bookings to visit home for the Yuletide.

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Crowded Lagos airport

The two British airlines operating into Nigeria, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways are seeing a huge rise in inbound passengers.

Aside from the difficulty in getting seats for their cancelled bookings, the astronomic air fares did not deter desperate travellers who want to be in Nigeria for the Yuletide and to see their loved ones.

President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye, said the scrapping of the Red List is a huge reprieve for airlines and travel agents.

She said that she had to advise thousands of people who wanted to cancel their bookings in the heat of the face-off to hold on till December 20, when it was initially agreed that the travel ban would be reviewed.

She further stated that for those who went ahead to cancel their journeys, it would be extremely difficult for them to get seats, adding that where they find one, it would be very expensive because of travel demands on airlines.

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British Airways in a message to its trade partners said, “This is to inform you that all types of visa are NOW permitted to travel to the UK on British Airways with immediate effect as Nigeria has now been removed from the red list.

“We will be sending more information on necessary guidelines later; in the interim kindly follow guidelines on the UK government website.”

Managing Director, Tour Brokers International (TBI), Mrs Uloma Egbuna who spoke to Aviation Metric from Canada said people are coming back to travel, adding, “The planes are getting full again and people are making travel plans again”.

To underscore how desperate Nigerians are to visit home for the Christmas festivities, airlines may have capitalized on that to adjust airfares. Airfares in Decembers are high because of the demand for air travel at that time of the year.

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The least fare for an economy class ticket from on British Airways as at today from Lagos to London went as high as N1, 114, 818 million while Business class ticket sold for N2.1 million. It is almost the same for Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The fare from Abuja to London is lesser than from Lagos. Economy class ticket from Abuja to London went for N583, 350 while Business class sold for N2, 67, 189 million.

It would be recalled that Nigerian around the world scrambled to cancel flights and reassured anxious travellers, capping a dizzying period of weeks in which bookings have evaporated and investors have lost confidence in the industry.

Wole Shadare