Stunted Air Passenger Traffic Attributed to Economic Crunch

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Stories by Chinedu Eze
Over the years Nigeria has not recorded tremendous growth in passenger traffic on domestic air transport. The development has been attributed to poor per capita income by industry stakeholders.

Travel expert and organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ikechi Uko, while speaking with THISDAY, said more Nigerians would travel by air if there was improvement in take home pay of average Nigerian.

With estimated over 200 million people, the highest figure recorded on passenger traffic in a year was about 16 million for both domestic and international passenger movements in the last seven years.

A total of 3.5 million passengers passed through Nigerian airports in the first quarter of 2019, according to FAAN’s passenger traffic movement report.

This figure represents 2.23 percent growth compared to the 3.43 million passengers recorded in the first quarter of 2018 with 54,000 aircraft movements.
The monthly breakdown showed that 1.42 million passengers comprising 789,883 arrivals and 633,069 departures in 18,653 aircraft movements were recorded in the month of January.

However, the traffic dropped in February, as 976,112 passengers comprising 462,447 arrivals and 513,665 departures were recorded. Note that the drop in Air Passengers traffic in February may be due to the general elections.

Lastly, in March 2019, the statistics rose as a total of 1.11 million passengers comprising of 556,297 arrivals and 554,220 departures in was recorded in March.
The second quarter statistics are yet to be confirmed by concerned authorities, but in September 2019, a total number of 1,331,766 air travelers passed through the domestic and international airports across the country.

These figures indicate that passenger movement and aircraft movement in 2019 may not surpass that of 2018. The total number of passengers who passed through Nigerian airports reached 17,230,438 in 2018. The total number of international passengers who passed through Nigerian airports reached 4,438,799 in 2018 as against 4,056,717 passengers in 2017.
However, 2019 may not hold much growth for aviation agencies in terms of passenger movement and revenue.

Industry analysts are of the view that airfares were relatively high in 2019, which forced some hitherto air travel passengers to seek for alternatives, which is road transport; despite the fact that the roads are bad and fraught with insecurity.

During its 2019 Awards held in Lagos, the organiser of the awards, Fortune Idu, noted that FAAN was expected to earn over N10 billion from the popular “cash cow”, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Abuja airport may likely yield N4 billion, Kano, N2 billion, Port Harcourt, N2 billion and Owerri, N1.3 billion. This will give the agency a total of about N19.3 billion.

However, industry stakeholders insist that there are huge potential for business in the aviation industry. The sector needs more airlines, service providers and above all, major maintenance facility and Aero Contractors, which may attract new investors in the New Year, could expand its facility and become a broad maintenance organisation for all types of aircraft.

Idu said he also expected that in 2020, the symmetry on national carrier and concession, which are major programmes of the Buhari administration, would become clearer.