No fewer than 11,221,608 air travellers went through Nigeria airports in 2017, according to figures released on Thursday by the Consumer Protection Directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this is a 26 per cent decrease compared to the 15,232,597 passengers recorded between January and December 2016.
According to the document, the 30 airlines on the international routes operated a total of 13,503 flights and carried 3,575,542 passengers during the period under review.
The eight domestic airlines operated a total of 48,319 flights and airlifted 7,646,600 passengers across the country.
Thus, airlines on the domestic routes accounted for 68 per cent of the passenger traffic, while the international route recorded 32 per cent.
Commenting on the development, the General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said the drop was due to various factors on both the domestic and international routes.
Adurogboye explained that the six weeks closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for the repair of its runway affected flight operations in the country.
“The foreign airlines, except Ethiopian Airways, refused to operate flights to Kaduna Airport, which served as the alternate airport during the period.
“So, this obviously limited the frequency of flights into the country, ” he said.
The NCAA spokesperson noted that on the domestic front, the perennial scarcity of aviation fuel and adverse weather during some months of the year also affected flight operations.
“We had a period when aviation fuel was scarce and the airlines could not operate their flights as scheduled.
“Also, during the harmattan period, there were flight delays and cancellations due to bad weather, ” Adurogboye said.
He maintained that aviation remains the safest, fastest and most convenient means of transportation, stressing that there was need for the airlines to tap into the huge market in the country.
“It is not the duty of the NCAA to do marketing for airlines. The airlines know that Nigeria has a large population and they need to attract more people into the flying public.
“People should be sensitised about how to buy cheap tickets through online booking on both local and foreign routes,” Adurogboye said.