Domestic airlines on brink of extinction as recession bites

  • lose 60% regional, international passengers

Nigeria’s domestic airlines may be on their way to total extinction due to capacity constraints. As at May, 2017, more than 95 per cent of international passengers are ferried by 26 foreign airlines, leaving just five per cent for local airlines.

According to National Daily findings, local airlines; put together, carried 82, 411 and 91,995 inbound and outbound passengers at regional and international levels in the first quarter of 2016 (January-March), the figure dropped to 21,322 and 29,288 inbound and outbound in the first quarter of 2017.

An analysis of international flight operations summaries of 2016 and 2017 first quarters indicated that Nigeria’s domestic airlines which were hitherto making wave on the regional and international scenes had disappeared with substantial drop on the number of passengers ferried.

Five, out of the eight domestic airlines—Arik Air, Med-View, Aero Contractor, Dana Air and Air Peace that operated regional and international flights had their flight operations dropped to a meagre 402 flights in the first quarter of 2017 from 1,070 recorded between January and march of 2016.

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Arik Air, which used to be one of the two, the other being Med-View, operating international flights, has since 2016 suspended its London, New York and Johannesburg flight operations, leaving Med-View as the only Nigerian carrier on the international scene with its London-Gatwick flight operated on Wednesdays and Sundays.

On the regional operations, Dana Air and Aero Contractors suspended their flights to Accra, Ghana while Air Peace only filled one of the slots in February when it commenced flight operations to Kotoka International Airport, Ghana.

An aviation analyst, Mr. Chris Aligbe, said government should give more support to local airlines operating international flights since they not only ploughed back their resources into the country but helped in conserving the scarce foreign exchange.

Meanwhile, Med-View Airline and Air Peace have announced their plans for more international flights. Med-View had disclosed that it would flag off flights to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the most patronised routes by Nigerian travelers by July 4.