Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
A total of 2,505,612 passengers have passed through Nigerian airports in the first quarter of 2017, 67.3 per cent of them being domestic passengers, travelling within Nigeria, while the rest were international air traveller entering or exiting the country.
The National Bureau of Statistic (NBS) in its Q1 Air Transportation Report released yesterday, said the figure represented a considerable drop compared to the previous quarter (31.3 per cent), and compared to the same quarter of the previous year (34.5 per cent) based on revised 2016 Q1figures).
According to the statistical agency, part of the reasons for the decline was that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had data for several additional airports, which were not available for the current period.
However, the report noted that comparing the same airports, the sharp decline was valid..
Relative to the previous quarter, there were 983,705 fewer passengers, a fall of 28.2 per cent, and relative to the first quarter of 2016 there were 1,165,482 fewer, or 29.4 per cent drop.
This, it added, was largely due to the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from March 8 to April 18, 2017.
On domestic passenger traffic, the data indicated a quarterly fall in the number of domestic passengers by 32.2 per cent, or 801,013 passengers, and a year-on- year fall of 31.9 per cent or 789,757 passengers when considering the same set of airports.
â€œWith the closure of Abuja Airport, 311,261 fewer domestic passengers traveled through Abuja relative to the previous quarter, and 321,952 relative to the first quarter of 2016â€, it explained.
For international passenger traffic, the data showed the number of international passengers that travelled to and from Nigeria declined, but not as steeply as the number of domestic passengers.
â€œLagos was the airport to account for the largest number of international travelers, with 627,406 passengers passing through in the first quarter of 2017. However, Lagos dominates international travel far more than domestic; in the first quarter of 2017 Lagos accounted for 76.5 per cent of international passengers, or over three quarters.
â€œThis was a higher share than in the previous quarter, when it was 71.9 per cent, and when compared to the first quarter of 2016, when the share was 72.1 per cent
â€œIn both cases, the increase was largely at the expense of Abuja, as may be expected due to the closure. â€œNevertheless, Lagos airport recorded the largest declines in absolute terms, with 93,775 fewer passengers than in the previous quarter, and 146,900 fewer than in the first quarter of 2016. These are equivalent to quarterly and year on year declines of 13.0% and 19.0%,â€ NBSâ€™ report noted.
Similarly, the Abuja airport remained the second busiest international airport in the first quarter of 2017, and accounted for 124,578 passengers, or 15.2% of the total while Kano International Airport remained the third largest in the first quarter of 2017, with 38,501 passengers to pass through.
The Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, according to report , was one of the only international airports to record a quarterly increase in passenger numbers, accounting for 6,240 passengers or 19.3 per cent.
Year-on-year , the number of passengers travelling through Kano international fell by 7,002 passengers, or 15.4 per cent.
A total of 41,932 aircraft also arrived at or departed from Nigerian airports, with a total of 13,024 aircraft travelling through Nigerian airports during the period under review, indicating a decline of 23.7 per cent
â€œThis decline was considerably smaller than the decline in the number of passengers, of 28.2 per cent, indicating that aircraft carried fewer passengers on average.
â€œFlight companies partly make decisions on how many aircraft to operate based on anticipated demand for flights; it is possible that the decline in the demand was more substantial than they expected. â€œMost major airports recorded a smaller decline in aircraft numbers than passenger numbers. Year on year, there was also a decline.