Air travellers on the domestic routes have commended improvement in on time departure by some airlines, which some industry operators attributed to availability of aviation fuel and relatively low capacity because many of the airlines are operating fewer aircraft.
This was acknowledged by the Director of Consumer Protection, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Mr. Adamu Abdullahi, who remarked that Arik Air is the most improved because compared to its past performance, it has restored passengersâ€™ confidence.
Abduallahi however noted that the major challenge this season is bad weather because Nigeria is transiting from dry season to wet season and the rains are ushered in by thunderstorm, which is a threat to flight operations.
â€œThere is improvement on on-time performance by domestic airlines, but Arik Air has improved much more. There are no more flight cancellations and they take off as schedule but I attribute this to the fact that the airline has reduced its overall schedule. They have rescheduled their flights, cut down their service to some destinations, so they can now manage their operations. They are winning their customers back,â€ the Director of Consumer Protection said.
Air travellers have also confirmed that other airlines like Air Peace, Dana Air, Medview, First Nation Airways have also improved on their departure time but noted that some of the airport facilities needed improvement and expansion because sometimes delays are caused by the inability to process passengers at the airport terminals.
â€œAs a regular traveller I can say that airlines are doing better now. I travel mostly with Air Peace and Arik Air. Last week we had weather problems when I travelled with Arik Air from Lagos to Abuja, which forced us to spend more time in the air than the 55 minutes flight time. Many of us were apprehensive because of the weather but what was remarkable was the pilot carried us along. He continued to tell us his next action, how long he would hover and when he wanted to approach landing he told us. We were satisfied,â€ the passenger said.
An airline operator however noted that due to obsolete infrastructure and limited capacity, it is difficult for any airline to operate up to 10 aircraft with full schedule of each aircraft to about five flights a day without experiencing delay and cancellation because there are constraining factors due to poor infrastructure.
â€œYou cannot compare an airline that operates 40 flights a day to the one that operates 20 flights a day. There are factors that can stop you from completing the 40 flights a day, which include lack of airfield lighting, bird strike, sometimes scarcity of aviation fuel and delay in the supply of the product and other factors and the higher the number of times you put the aircraft in the air, the higher the chance of encountering these problems,â€ the operator said.