The Federal Government on Thursday said the over 100 per cent hike in domestic airfares was inevitable, describing it as one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also disclosed that 300 employees of Arik Air who would have been recently sacked by the carrier had not been relieved of their jobs based on the intervention of government.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, disclosed this in Abuja at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
He said, “As regards ticket prices, yes ticket prices have gone up astronomically over the last week or so. That is one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aviation, tourism and travel industry is one of the most devastated industries.
“Because we had a shutdown for several months, the airlines were not making money and there are fixed cost that they have to deal with.
“They have to maintain the aircraft and unfortunately most of these aircraft are maintained outside the country.”
Nuhu stated that because of the shutdown, airlines could not find slots to take their aircraft out, adding that the dollar rate had gone up and operators needed to raise enough money.
On the issue of 300 sacked staff employees of Arik Air, the NCAA boss said the workers were not retrenched.
“Yes there was an issue but the staff were never sacked. There was a threat by one of the airlines and some disengagement disagreements, but the NCAA intervened,” Nuhu said,
He added, “We spoke with both the management and labour unions and they have agreed to go back to the discussion table.
“The last report I received, they have made significant progress in closing that gaps. We hope they conclude and nobody is sacked.”
On issue of bailout for airlines, he said it was a policy matter being handled by Federal Ministry of Aviation under the directive of the Minister of Aviation.