from OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos, Nigeria
LAGOS – AIR travel in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has rebounded strongly following eased mobility restrictions and gradual economic recovery.
Security worries about domestic road and rail travel are a secondary reason behind the significant recovery of domestic air passenger traffic.
Islamist insurgents and kidnap gangs operating in highways have worsened insecurity. Militants recently attacked a busy train in the north, killing eight people.
“This has resulted in a segment of travel passengers shifting their preferred mode of transportation for long-haul trips from road transportation to air travel,” stated FBN Quest, the market watcher.
Data drawn from the National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS) series on air passenger traffic, based on data provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), shows improvement in domestic air travel.
Total passenger traffic (domestic and international) through Nigeria’s airports in the third quarter (Q3) and Q4 in 2021 improved by around 155 percent year-on-year (y/y) and 64 percent (y/y) to 4,1 million and 4 million respectively.
Compared with the previous year, total passenger traffic for 2021 rose 45 percent to 15,2 million.
Domestic passenger traffic which grew by 43 percent y/y accounted for 85 percent of total air traffic or 13 million passengers.
As for international travel, air passenger traffic grew by 58 percent y/y to 2,2 million passengers in 2021.
Despite the y/y growth, the figure is only 48 percent of the pre-pandemic level in 2019.
However, FBN Quest noted as the price of liquid fuels such as aviation fuel has risen, fuelled lately by the Russian-Ukraine conflict, the cost of domestic air travel has increased significantly.
Also, due to the use of remote working and work collaboration tools which gained traction during the pandemic, international business travel is expected to take longer to fully recover.
A major challenge faced by international airlines operating in Nigeria is the issue of foreign exchange liquidity.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, recently disclosed that foreign airlines have US$283 million trapped in the West African country.
– CAJ News