Despite COVID-19, Over 14.2m Passengers Travelled by Air in 2021

Despite COVID-19, Over 14.2m Passengers Travelled by Air in 2021

Chinedu Eze

Notwithstanding the restrictions and devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Nigerian economy, more than 14.2 million persons travelled by air in the country through domestic and international flights in 2021.

Records from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) showed that the number of passengers on inbound domestic flights were 5, 977, 927, while outbound domestic flights were 6, 072, 337, making a total of 12, 050, 264.

In the same period, inbound international flights carried 1, 086, 395 passengers and outbound international flights conveyed 1, 112, 884, making a total of 2, 199, 279. This made the total of both domestic and international passengers that were airlifted 14, 249, 543.

Apart from 2020, when there were no scheduled flight operations for about four months, the highest passenger traffic recorded in air travel in the past five years was in 2019, when passenger traffic rose to 17, 580, 023.

Details of the travel statistics obtained from NCAA also indicated that 27 international airlines operated 9, 673 flights with 3, 216 delays, 37 cancellations, 24 air/ramp returns, 18, 458 missing baggage and out of that number, 16, 978 baggage were later found. During the period under review also, there were 45 overbooked flights and denied boarding for international travel and 60 complaints about pilferage and discourtesy.

There were 105 complaints, out of which 60 cases were resolved.

In terms of domestic airlines, there were 10 airlines, which operated 74, 537, 42 flights. Also, there were 328, 542 flight cancellations, 110 air/ramp returns and 1, 086 delayed flights. Similarly, there were also 1, 086 delayed/missing bags. The number of baggage recovered were 1, 082 and over booking was 27, while pilferage, 281, complaints 308 and resolved cases, 227.

Total number of flights operated by international airlines included African World Airlines, 1, 142; Air Cote D’Ivoire, 530; Air France, 255; Air Peace, 699; Asky Airline, 884; Azman Air, three; Badr Air, 47; British Airways, 584; Cronos Air, 130; Delta Airline, 350, and Egypt Air, 543.

Others were Emirates, 225; Ethiopian Airlines, 828; Kenya Airways, 721; KLM, 229; Lufthansa, 555; Middle East Airlines, 122; Qatar Airways, 679; Royal Air Maroc, 173; RwandAir, 310; Saudi Air, 24 and South Africa Airways, eight.

There were also TAAG Angola, 15; Tchad Air, 26; Turkish Airlines, 669, United Air Lines, 12 and Virgin Atlantic, 363.

Operated flights by domestic airlines were as follows: Aero Contractors, 6,937; Arik Air, 9, 024; Azman Air, 3, 921; Dana Air, 9,360; Overland, 2, 917 and Air Peace, 17, 861. Others were Max Air, 8,607; Ibom Air, 9, 551, United Nigeria Airlines, 6, 408 and Green Africa, 1, 092.

There were indications that flight delays had not abated, as records showed that despite passengers’ complaints, over 35 per cent of flights were delayed both on international and domestic flights.

Furthermore, the data revealed that flight delays from January to December 2021, showed that domestic airlines operating in Nigeria recorded 41, 398 cases of delayed flights.

Flight delays by airlines were as follows: Aero Contractors 3, 766 from 6, 973 flights; Arik Air, 5, 171 from 9, 024 flights; Azman Air, 2,494 from 3, 921 flights and Dana Air, 5,227 from 9, 360 flights.

Others were Overland Airways, 2, 441 from 2,917 flights; Air Peace, 9, 900 from 17, 861 flights; Max Air, 5, 212 from 8, 607 flights; Ibom Air, 2, 582 from 9, 551 flights, United Nigeria Airlines, 4, 063 from 6, 408 flights and Green Africa, 542 from 1, 092 flights.

Reacting to the passenger upsurge since the lockdown in early 2020, industry expert and Managing Director of Flights and Logistics Solutions Limited, Amos Akpan, told THISDAY that people were desperate to recover their businesses, their investments so there was rush travel and do business.

Akpan stated, “People came out to recover what they have lost or were losing. Airlines that rested their planes had to bring them out and put them in the air to make money.

“People had to go back to their businesses. Those who took loans have to service the loans. So, there was the need by the private sector and the government to kick-start the economy after the COVID-19 devastation.”

Travel expert and consultant, Ambassador Ikechi Uko, said there was global pressure for recovery, noting that domestic airlines recovered quickly because Nigeria had only one lockdown, so recovery was not interrupted by another lockdown.

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