By Chinedu Eze
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has disclosed that a total of 7,503,408 passengers passed through Nigerian airports in the first half of 2018, representing a 23.9 per cent growth from the 6,054,319 passengers recorded in the first half of 2017.
The passenger traffic however includes international, domestic, inbound and outbound air travel.
NBS observed that this significant growth in both the first and second quarters of 2018 was mainly driven by the increased passenger traffic through Abuja airports, compared with the same period in 2017 when the Abuja airport was closed down during the period for the rehabilitation of the runway.
NBS also said there was also a boost in passenger traffic in March 2018 when total air passenger was 1,721,224 with 797,608 arrivals and 923,616 departures, which was a 62 per cent rise from the average passenger traffic from the previous two months – January and February 2018.
NBS noted that the total number of air passengers declined in the second quarter of 2018 from the first quarter by 4.90 per cent, standing at 3,657,555. Nevertheless, the recorded total passenger in Q2 indicates a robust year-on-year growth of 15.24 per cent from the same quarter in the last year.
Of the 7,503,408 total passengers – arrivals and departures – recorded in the first half of 2018, 27.59 per cent or 5,433,145 passengers traversed through the country’s international airports and 72.41per cent or 2,070,263 went through the various domestic airports. The agency said Lagos and Abuja’s international and domestic airports accounted for 73.4 per cent of total air traffic passengers in Q2 2018, representing a decline from their combined market share in Q1 2018, which was 77.9 per cent but an increase in combined market share over the same period last year.
The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, recently told THISDAY that as Nigeria recovered from recession, more people started travelling in 2018.
According to him, there is increase in capacity as passengers demand increased, while the foreign airlines which cut down frequency and aircraft size during the recession, boosted their operations in Nigeria.
“For example, those airlines that left due solely for economic consideration during the recession returned and those airlines which have been supporting Nigeria despite the economic challenges stayed.We appreciate them,” Usman said.
In 2016 Emirates withdrew its daily Abuja-Dubai operations and reduced its 14 flights weekly operation to Lagos from Dubai to seven, but the airline has returned the frequencies and now operates 21 times weekly to Nigeria.