According to records on passenger movement in the country by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), passenger traffic on domestic routes in the country dropped by over 30 per cent in the first half of 2018, compared with same period last year.
Airline operators however attributed the development to slowdown in economic activities, as well as low purchasing power. For example, in the first six months of 2017, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), the busiest airport in the country, recorded 2,644,034 passengers on domestic flights. In the same period in 2018, the airport recorded only 1,803,317 passengers.
Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, FAAN recorded 1,907,682 in the first six months of 2017, higher that the 1,702,020 the agency report in same period in 2018. In fact, the airports that operate only domestic service recorded low passenger movement in the first half of 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017.
The spokesman of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye, told the media that the low passenger traffic was a reflection of the prevailing economic situation, noting that the aviation industry cannot be insulated from the rest of the economic mix. He said, “Air travel and the aviation sector respond to the prevailing economic situation; just like it affects other sectors. In air travel, there is low season and there is also high season. Even on international flights, there are times seats are fully booked and there are also times of flying empty seats. But safety remains our number priority. We don’t toy with it.
“Nigeria is not an exception of the low passenger traffic. To have improved load factors depends on some other variables such as flying modern equipment, good customer care, competitive fare regime, laudable safety and security records. If an airline now chooses to toy with safety, it will have the regulator to contend with. If it escapes the eagle-eyed regulator, one day, accident will catch up with him. God forbid,” Adurogboye said.