• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Airlines cancel flights, lose N200m to elections

Delta-Airlines

All of Nigeria’s ten domestic airlines shut down operations last Saturday, losing an estimated N200million in revenue, on account of the restriction on movement attending the Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives  elections which held nationwide on that day.

The airlines then resumed operations yesterday (Sunday) but there was not much traffick, as only a few passengers bought tickets.

Some industry observers say this may be because the elections were extended to yesterday, adding that there had been a slow down in all forms of domestic travel as well as other business activities, as the public was mindful of security issues around elections.

The latest published revenue figures for all domestic carriers,  by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) being for 2013 put the total revenue generated at N73 billion. One day’s computation of revenue based on this figure comes to N200 million.

The airlines, including Arik Air, Medview Air, Aero, FirstNation Airways, DiscoveryAir, Air Peace, Azman Air and Overland Airways, did not operate flights into or out of Lagos on Saturday.

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The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in charge of air navigation, however said in a statement on Friday, that the country’s airspace remained open.

Olajumoke Adetona, NAMA spokesperson had said NAMA “hereby wishes to reassure all airspace users and the general public that the Nigerian airspace remains open and safe for air travel before, during and after the general elections.

She further said that “the agency has therefore put in place all the necessary measures to ensure safe flight operations within the period.”

Adetona was responding to the situation at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Friday night, where scores of travelers besieged the airport seeking to  leave  country.

But on the domestic scene, Ola Banji, spokesman for Arik Air, Nigeria’s biggest domestic airline in fleet and  operations, told BusinessDay on phone, that there could’nt be operations until after the restriction on movement because there would not be people to carry.

Arik Air operates to 18 domestic destinations including Abuja, Lagos, Owerri, Enugu, Calabar, Port Hacourt, Benin, Jos,  Warri, Asaba, Yola, Makurdi, Kano, Uyo, Kaduna, Sokoto, Akure, Ilorin, Gombe, Katsina, Maiduguri, Makurdi and Ibadan.

Excluding the Airbus aircraft which are used on international routes, Arik Air provides over 2,774 seats on the domestic routes daily, to travelers and operates about 120 flights daily.

Muneer Bankole, managing director of Medview Airlines, told BusinessDay on phone, that his company would only resume operations by 12 noon on Sunday.

“We are resuming on Sunday by mid-day”, he said.

Samuel Ogbogoro, Dana Air spokesman also said they would not operate any flights after the elections as there are no passengers.

Aero provides 1,538 seats daily to travelers and operates about 80 flights to Abuja ,Asaba , Benin, Calabar , Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Lagos , Owerri, Port Harcourt , Uyo and  Sokoto daily.

Medview Airlines flies to Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Yola and Enugu with three aircraft, including two Boeing 737-400   with 144 seats each,  one Boeing 737-500 with 115    seats on the domestic routes, providing 403 seats daily.

Dana Air operates to Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Lagos and Uyo, with four McDonnell 83 aircraft, each having 144 seating capacity and one Learjet 45XR with 8 seats for charter.    

It provides 576 seats to travellers daily.

DiscoveryAir operates to Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt, two B737-300 with 125 seating capacity each, offering 250 seats daily to the travelling public.

Overland Airways, which flies to Lagos, Abuja, Asaba, Akure, Ilorin, Minna, Calabar, Bauchi and Ibadan, has eight aircraft, including two Beechcraft 1900D with 19 seats, three ATR 42-320 with 48 seats and three ATR 72 aircraft with 68 seats.

Altogether, it offers 135 seats to travelers daily.

Air Peace, which operates to Abuja, Lagos, Owerri, Enugu, Calabar, Port Hacourt, Benin, Jos, Warri, Asaba, Yola, Makurdi, Kano, Uyo, Kaduna and Sokoto, operates with seven aircraft including three Dornier 328 Jets with 30 seats and four Boeing 737-500 with 130 seats each,  making available 610 seats to travellers daily.

Azman Air operates to Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Abuja and Yola with two B737-300 with 125 seats each. It therefore offers 250 seats daily.

In all, the airlines provide 6,538 seats to the travelling public daily.

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After a complete shut down of operations by all the ten domestic airlines on Saturday due to presidential elections, flight operatons resume on Sunday at all the airports.

The airlines are still however, counting their loses even as they recorded average traffic on Sunday.

One of the operators told Businessday that ‘at least an airline coukd make N3 billion profut in a month adding that, a day’s loss is a big one because a great part of the money go to maintenande and fuelling cost’.

He said because ‘It was an important event that involved the whole country where all businesses closed down, airline business eventhough, sensitive, have no choice other than to obey the call.

“We are in a very sensitive sector which sometimes, requires special arrangement but that didn’t apply on Saturday. on my side, only a few pasengers booked for that but we sent messages to them to postpone their trips because of the situation, of course, we can’t quantify the loss, we can’t reverse it but we are happy that the election was peaceful otherwise we may have to still delay operations”, he said.

Samuel Ogbogoro, Dana air spokesman who conformed that they have resumed flights said, they had to reshedule flighrs due to the elections.

Ola Banji, Arik Air spokesman said the airline resumed operations as early as possible on Sunday.

“We resumed operations this morning”.

SADE WILLIAMS