Domestic flight operations rose by 2,022 between July 2018 and June 2019, figures obtained from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority have shown.
The figures obtained by our correspondent showed that domestic airlines operated 30,043 flights within the period, compared to 28, 021 flight operations recorded in the same period of 2018 and the 26, 992 flights recorded between August and December 2018.This means that on year-on-year basis, the operators recorded an increase of 7.22 per cent.
According to the NCAA statistics, from January to June 2019, domestic airlines recorded inbound passengers of about 2,485, 556 while outbound passengers were 2,593, 417.
The statistics showed that Air Peace operated the highest number of flights at 11, 889 followed by Arik Air at 5, 378 and Aero Contractors at 3, 293.
Ibom Air which began flight operations a few months ago recorded the lowest number of flights at 220, followed by Med-View Airline and Overland Airways at 374 and 1, 248 flight operations respectively.
All the nine domestic airlines operating in the country put together recorded 16, 429 flight delays in six months down from 16, 880 recorded in the same period of 2018.
About 241 flights were cancelled within the six months, down from 253 cancelled flights in the same period of 2018.
The international airlines operating in the country, on the other hand, recorded 7, 640 flights between January and June, delayed 2, 421 and cancelled 55 flights.
The foreign airlines also recorded 948,157 inbound passengers and 1, 044, 857 outbound passengers within the period.
About 16, 291 missing baggage were recorded on international flights between January and June; 15, 305 were found, leaving 986 still missing.
The International Air Transport Association had last week, in its global passenger traffic results, said flight operations based on passenger demand on the African continent had been benefitting from a generally supportive economic backdrop, including improved economic stability in several countries as well as increased air connectivity.
The IATA had said in early 2019 that the year had started on a positive note, with healthy passenger demand in line with the 10-year trend line.
According to an airline source who did not want to be quoted, election years generally come with surge in passenger traffic.
A member of the Aviation Roundtable Initiative, and Head, Research and Corporate Travel of Zenith Consult and Travel, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, said the surge in passenger travel in the first six months could be adduced to the political campaign and other activities within that period.
“We had about four to five days that airlines didn’t fly but the days preceding those days, people moved from one point to another for campaign, rallies and meetings.
He said, “In doing this, businesses had to quickly conclude before the elections to ensure they were able to sort themselves out before the period, this made travel to increase.”
Ohunayo, however, explained that beyond the general elections, the insecurity in the country had made road travel dangerous making more people to opt for air travel.
“Due to kidnapping and banditry, all middle-class travellers who were a bit stingy about flying are now doing so,” he said.
He stated that the surge should not be seen as an increase in economic activities but an increase in insecurity inland travel.