• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Air travel, businesses hit as flights to Kaduna halt

Air travel, businesses hit as flights to Kaduna halt

Air travel to Kaduna and some parts of the northern states as well as businesses around the region are taking a beating, following airlines’ suspension of flights to Kaduna, a major destination in northern Nigeria.

Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest flight carrier, and Azman Air recently suspended operations to Kaduna International Airport as a result of the security situation around the airport.

Gunmen had on Saturday attacked the Kaduna airport, killing the guard at the site of Very High Frequency Omni-directional Range, a navigational aids equipment belonging to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.

In a related development, on Monday, gunmen attacked a busy train between Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and Kaduna, carrying 970 passengers, with many killed and many injured.

Amid rising insecurity concerns around the northern part of Nigeria, airlines had seen an increase in demand for flights to and from the region but the recent attack at the Kaduna airport is taking a toll on airlines.

Air Peace operates daily return flights from Lagos and Abuja to Kaduna, carrying an average of 150 passengers on each of the flights. This shows that, prior to the suspension, Air Peace carried about 600 passengers on the Lagos-Abuja-Kaduna routes for the two return flights.

Azman Air also operates a daily return flight from Lagos to Kaduna, carrying an average of 200 passengers on each flight. This shows that daily, the airline carried 400 passengers on the Lagos–Kaduna route.

The two airlines carried an average of 1,000 passengers daily and 7,000 passengers weekly.

With N50,000 per ticket, the airlines are losing an estimated sum of N350 million weekly.

Stanley Olisa, Air Peace spokesperson, described Kaduna as one the airline’s busiest destinations in the northern part of Nigeria.

According to Olisa, while the airline will make some losses during the period of flight suspension, safety is priority for them.

“My sister-in-law runs a lucrative textile business in Kaduna and travels from Lagos to Kaduna every week. But with the security situation in the state, her business has been affected as she has suspended her visit to the state, pending when security gets better,” Habiba Isa told BusinessDay.

Read also: Why flights are delayed in Nigeria – airline operators

An airport worker at the Kaduna airport said businesses in and around the airport had been affected as passengers whom these businesses sell to no longer pass through the airport.

“It is sad to see what has happened in Kaduna in the last five days. Almost all modes of transportation into Kaduna have been shut down. Kaduna is like the base of the northern oligarchy and a business community, just like Ibadan is to the South-West and Enugu is to the South-East,” Olumide Ohunayo, an aviation analyst, told BusinessDay.

According to Ohunayo, if people are unable to access Kaduna, almost 19 states will be affected because the elites and businesses congregate at Kaduna and then move to other states within the region.

He said, “If you look at the people on the last train attack, you will discover that these are people from different northern states who have held positions and who are still holding positions. Oftentimes, when they get into Kaduna, they commune by road.

“The current situation will not only affect Kaduna but Nigeria. The military facility is within that region. They need to step up the fight against the terrorists because this can eventually cripple the economy of the country. These bandits must be stopped, punished and made to face the law.”

He stressed the need for Nigeria to beef up security around aviation infrastructures at airports and ensure that the airports are safe and support the airlines.

John Ojikutu, aviation security consultant and secretary general of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, said the attacks on the airports in Nigeria showed the airport authorities had no contingency plans for transportation system in the midst of the escalation of threats from its home-grown terrorists.

Ojikutu said with the insecurity affecting various means of transportation, namely railway, airports and interstate roads, serious thoughts should be given to a transportation security administration model in Nigeria.

He said, “My knowledge in aviation security tells me that aviation security is a function of national security, and an attack on any target in aviation is an attack on the state.

“The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority needs to come out with security directives to enhance the security programmes of the various operators for all the domestic and international airports, airlines and the allied services. There is a need to bring all the government security agencies working in the airports together to ensure that they all have good knowledge of how the aviation security defence layers work.”