The government of the Republic of Niger few weeks ago placed a ban on all commercial and international flights coming from or going to Nigeria.
In a similar move, the Republic of Niger announced the opening of its airspace to all national and international commercial flights, effective immediately.
The new directive specifies that commercial flights passing over Nigerian airspace without landing will not be affected by these restrictions. Nevertheless, it is mandatory for all flights operating within Niger’s airspace to have their ADS-B and/or radar transponders operational throughout the duration of the flight.
Stakeholders and aviation experts have said the implication of the ban for Nigeria would be longer flight time and even increase in air fares.
Olumide Ohunayo industry analyst and Director, Research, Zenith Travels, said the flight ban was a retaliatory move from Niger, adding that Nigeria has more to lose compared to Niger because Niger has a closed economy.
“We are going to lose revenue from overflight. Some flights going over that airspace will have to divert, making the flights operate for longer hours. There might be additional costs for such flights to cover for the extra cost of fuel.
“Airlines will be forced to go to other countries to fly from. Also, charges to Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) on overflight will be lost. NAMA will be the biggest hit. There should be room for emergency aircraft if there is a need for an emergency landing. It is not supposed to be a total shutdown as required the civil aviation rule.
Travel will be more expensive. This is what the extra routing means,” Ohunayo added.
John Ojikutu, industry expert and the CEO of Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, Nigeria said the implication of the ban are more on the Safety of the Europe and North African airlines flights inbound and outbound Nigeria and the passengers tickets fares.
Ojikutu said these travellers would have to fly more westward to avoid the Niger Republic Airspace and that means, flying longer distances and hours either way and the passenger paying more than the normal fares.
“The alternative would be for the foreign airlines from Europe stopping in Accra and interlining with our domestic airlines to shuttle Europe/Nigerian passengers to and from Lagos for them. That could shorten the distance for the airlines but not so on the Passengers tickets fares,” he added.
In the press statement shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, the government of Niger had said that,
“The airspace of the Republic of Niger is open to all national and international commercial flights from ground to unlimited, except for Nigerian flights to or from Nigeria.
“These restrictions do not affect commercial flights that fly over Nigerian airspace without landing there.
“However, it is recalled that ads-b and/or radar transponders must remain on for any flight taking place in the Niger Republic.”
It added that the country’s airspace continues to remain closed for all military, operational, and special flights. These types of flights will only be permitted with prior authorization from the competent authorities.
It said that the circular specifically concerns Niger and Nigeria and does not revoke any existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) in force.