We are often asked why it is virtually impossible to find cheap flights to Lagos, considering that it is not only the largest city in Africa
, but that there is also a substantial Nigerian community in London and elsewhere across the UK. Why, for example, can you buy a return ticket from London to New York
for £250, but rarely find a return fare to Lagos for under £600? The simple answer is the lack of competition on the London to Lagos route. Currently, only British Airways
, Arik Air and Virgin Atlantic offer direct flights between London and Lagos.
Because of this lack of competition, prices are kept artificially high, and the status quo will remain until someone else can muscle their way into this lucrative market. The small number of flights on offer also means that demand far outweighs supply ' another reason for high prices.
Are there cheaper indirect flights to Lagos?
Connecting flights with European airlines are sometimes cheaper than the direct flights to Lagos with British Airways, Arik or Virgin Atlantic. The most popular connections are via Amsterdam
(Air France), Frankfurt
(Lufthansa) or Milan
(Alitalia). Additionally, the Spanish airline Iberia also offer flights to Lagos via their Madrid
hub, but these tend to be operated by small Airbus A319 aircraft. As with many other flights to western Africa, some of these services are more focused on business travelers attached to the lucrative oil industry than they are on more budget minded passengers.
Will any other airlines offer cheap flights to Lagos?
There is clearly a huge market for more reasonably priced flights to Lagos, but the potential for growth is hampered by the difficulties any start-up airline would have in obtaining slots in either London or Lagos. The Nigerian economy may have improved somewhat since the days of General Abacha, but corruption is still rife, and any emerging airline would have to work hard to gain consumer confidence. As Nigeria continues in its efforts to stamp out corruption and to push towards more economic liberalisation, it is inevitable this market will eventually become more open.
A few notes of warning
The foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) issued regular briefings on the security situation in Nigeria, which includes warnings about high levels of crime in Lagos. The advice also notes the strong demand for flights to Nigeria and the high levels of overbooking on these services. We would draw particular attention to the need to reconfirm all flights back from Nigeria, and to check in as early as possible in order to secure your seat.