Despite the challenge of safety that confronted the Nigeria aviation industry over the years, domestic air traffic has continued to be on the rise, shooting up by 24 percent in six years.
A recent document from aviation authorities shows that even though there had been fatal crashes, many Nigerians still prefer to travel by air.
A recent document on the operations of domestic airlines in Nigeria sourced from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the industry’s regulatory agency, showed that passenger traffic rose from 6,369,342 million in 2007 (arrival and departure) to 8,975,497 million in 2012 (both arrival and departure), a difference of 24 percent.
The figures showed that in 2007, the authority recorded 3,102,670 arrivals and 3,266,672 departures with Aero Contractors carrying 26.95 percent of the traffic; Virgin Nigeria, 21.40 percent and Arik Air which newly came into the market had 19.42 percent share. Chanchangi and IRS had 17.77 percent and 4.63 percent shares, respectively.
In 2008, NCAA recorded 3,492,252 arrivals and 3,527,780 departures with Arik Air getting a larger chunk of the market with 36.22 percent; Aero, 22.06 percent; Virgin Nigeria, 19.16 percent; Chanchangi, 14.13 percent; IRS, 3.7 7 percent and Bellview, 2.72 percent.
In 2009, there were 4,302,635 arrivals while there are 4,478,210 departures in the same period. During this period, Arik Air controlled 39.62 percent of the market; Aero had 24.83 percent; Virgin Nigeria got 11.56 percent; Chanchangi had 9.98 percent while Dana had 6.9 percent. IRS in the same period had 3.87 percent.
For 2010, the NCAA recorded 10,563,658 arrivals and had 50,673,343 departures. At this period, Arik’s hold on the market increased to 40.89 percent while Aero, which follows closely controlled about 32.17 percent of the market. Virgin Nigeria’s share depleted to 7. 46 percent partly due to the crisis it was going through at that time. Dana share shot up to 8.79 percent, Chanchangi depleted to 3.45 percent while IRS rose to 6.18 percent.
In 2011, 5,349,495 million arrived various airports across the nation with the airlines and 5,375,232 million passengers departed the airports. At this time, Dana air captured 10.70 percent of the total share of the air travel market while Arik depleted from over 40 percent to 32.09 percent. Aero also went down slightly to 30 .02 percent while Virgin Nigeria, which was newly acquired and renamed Air Nigeria had 15.36 percent.
FirstNation Airways, a new entrant had 0.28 percent, IRS controlled 8.28 percent, Overland had 0.95 percent.
There were 4,471,728 arrivals while there were 4,503,769 departures at various airports.
In this year, Arik Air share went up to 42.72 percent; Aero had 34.86 percent; Air Nigeria depleted to 5.62 percent due to the union crisis and the eventual shutting down of the airline over inability to further finance it.
Dana which operated for half of the year due to the fatal crash had its share depleted to 5.11 percent thereby increasing market shares for airlines like FirstNation, 1.10 percent; Overland, 1.55 percent and Medview, a new entrant, having 0.80 percent.
There was, however, a sharp decrease in passenger traffic in 2012 as analysts attributed this to “fear of the unknown” after the Dana crash.
“You know people will first be scared of flying even though it is the safest. FirstNation also left the scene during the period and you see people preferring to travel by road during the crisis period that affected the industry”, an analyst said.