Abuja surpasses Lagos as 6 airports see 100% rise in traffic
Nigeria’s air passenger movements are getting back to the pre-pandemic levels as businesses adjust their models to suit COVID 19 safety requirements. For both arrivals and departures, 17 domestic airports in Nigeria, out of 31, recorded a total of 13.006 million passengers in 2021, and that was 43.3 percent higher than the 9.069 million passengers that used local airports in 2020, but lower by 3.6 percent than the 13.19 million local passenger movements in 2019.
Specifically, a total of 6.53 million passengers arrived at the 17 local airports in 2021 while 6.47 million passengers departed through them. When compared with both arrivals and departures in 2020, arrivals in 2021 increased by 34.16 percent just as departures rose by 54.1 percent.
However, both metrics still fell below the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. With a total of 6.8 million arrivals and 6.69 million departures, arrivals and departures in 2021 compared with 2019 were lower by 3.92 percent and 3.25 percent respectively.
The 17 local airports that were patronised by passengers include the domestic wings of Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. Others are in Enugu, Kaduna, Calabar, Sokoto, Benin, Maiduguri, Jos, Owerri, Yola, Ilorin, Ibadan, Akure, and Katsina.
Those without domestic passenger movements in 2021 are airports located at Osubi, Minna, Markurdi, Akwa Ibom, Asaba, Gombe, Eket, Zaria, and Bauchi. Others are Escravos, Forcados, Kebbi, Finima, and Dutse.
For Enugu, the Federal Government of Nigeria closed it in 2019 to refurbish its runaway, but was supposed to have resumed operations in October 1, 2021. Osubi Airport in Warri was shut down in 2020 due to the disagreement between Shoreline Oil Services Limited, the operator of the airport and aviation service providers over alleged debt and mismanagement. In March 2021, the FG approved the reopening of the airport.
Local wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja the most patronised
Since 2019, the domestic wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport has maintained its position as the most patronised domestic airport in Nigeria in terms of passenger movements. The total number of domestic air passengers that used Abuja airport was 4.51 million in 2019, 3.50 million in 2020, and 4.75 million in 2021. On the other hand, 4.29 million domestic passengers used the local wing of Muritala Muhammad Airport in Lagos in 2019; 3.11 million in 2020, and 4.09 million in 2021.
This implies that in 2021, 36.6 percent of the domestic air passengers used the local wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, 31.5 percent used the Muritala Muhammed Airport in Lagos and 6.9 percent used Port Harcourt Airport in Rivers State. Combined, the three domestic airports accounted for 75 percent of the domestic passenger movements in 2021.
Before now, the local wing of the Muritala Muhammed Airport in Lagos was the most used by domestic passengers, recording 3.68 million and 4.24 million passenger movements in 2017 and 2018 while Abuja had 2.82 million and 3.86 million domestic passenger movements respectively during the same periods.
“The roads leading to Abuja from anywhere in Nigeria are not safe nowadays due to persistent kidnappings. Apart from that, it is the seat of power where people go to from different state capitals to pursue businesses. When these factors are put together, it should not come to you as a surprise that the domestic wing of Abuja airport recorded the most patronage in 2021”, Abiodun John, said.
Six domestic airports recorded over 100 percent rise in traffic
Six domestic airports recorded over 100 percent increase in passenger traffic in 2021. The highest growth was recorded by the domestic wing of Katsina Airport, owning partly to the fact that the airport has just been upgraded.
A total of 30,313 domestic passengers used the Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua Airport in Katsina in 2021, a significant improvement over 8,663 in 2020, and 2,906 passengers in 2019. Total passenger traffic rose by 249.91 percent in 2021 when compared with 2020, and by 943.12 percent when compared with 2019.
Yar’ Adua Airport was upgraded because it is where the military operations against terrorists in the North West are being coordinated. Consequently, in March 2021, the Nigerian government approved the installation of a category three instrument landing system for the airport.
Akure airport saw its passenger traffic rise by 240.41 percent in 2021 as the total domestic passengers rose to 113,625 compared with 33,379 in 2020 and 54,637 in 2019. A notable factor that was responsible for increased activity at the airport is the opening up of Ondo State’s economy for businesses.
In 2020, the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akerodolu commissioned a N9 billion chocolate factory which can process 2.8 million tons of chocolate per annum in Idanre, a historic town in the state. In 2021, he also commissioned a N15 billion agro-allied company, Johnvents Industries Nigeria Limited in Owo, Ondo State.
The two firms above are into cocoa processing. And in order to ensure the steady supply of raw materials for chocolate production, Ondo State Government supported the cultivation of over 10,000 hectares of cocoa farm in Owo Local Government Area of the state. In all, Akerodulu has commissioned seven cocoa factories in the state, with eyes on the $5 billion potential cocoa market value which is not being tapped optimally in Nigeria.
To cement its position in the cocoa agric value chain, the Ondo State Government recently announced that chocolate produced in the state would be exported to the European market in July this year, with the United Kingdom as the first port of call.
Enugu airport recorded 218.88 percent growth in domestic passenger traffic in 2021, and 178.47 percent increase when compared with 2019. Enugu is the most peaceful state in the entire south east geopolitical zone. In 2021, the state attracted a major investment when Audi Company Limited was inaugurated in the state, a firm that specialises in power solution, automobile and engineering works. Earlier, Peace Mass Transit established a car assembly plant in the same state.
Domestic passenger traffic at the Ilorin airport in 2021 rose by 147.78 percent and by 72.92 percent when compared with 2019. Also, the Benin airport in Edo State recorded 137.42 percent and 27.49 percent increase in passenger traffic in those periods. For Calabar airport, it was 113.41 percent and 61.22 percent increase in passenger traffic respectively.
Apart from the above, other domestic airports saw their passenger traffic rise by double digits in 2021. Sokoto’s domestic passenger traffic rose by 78.18 percent; 66.57 percent in Jos; 58.36 percent in Owerri; 57.04 percent in Yola; 49.66 percent in Port Harcourt, 35.83 percent in Abuja, and it was 35.78 percent Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The list also includes Ibadan, 32.74 percent; Lagos, 31.52 percent, and Kano, 23.35 percent.
Security concerns overshadow Kaduna’s investment potential
Kaduna recoded the least growth in domestic passenger traffic in 2021 to the tune of 7.70 percent. The total number of domestic air travellers that used the airport amounted to 73,110 in 2021; 67,881 in 2020, and 138,847 in 2019.
Meanwhile, in the last five years, the state has attracted quite a number of significant investments that put Nigeria on the global map. Between 2016 and 2021, the state attracted over $3 billion worth of investments in which one of the notable investments was the $150 million Olam Integrated Farm which is the largest hatchery in Sub Saharan Africa.
In 2021, it attracted a $1.5 million investment through Zipline, a medical product delivery company which established in the state. Other new investments include the Dangote Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited, Tomato Jos Factory, and the Galaxy Mall.
Abuja to remain the most patronised over 2023 general elections
With the general elections starting soonest, Abuja as the seat of power will retain its position as the most patronised local airport in Nigeria due to the ensuing politicking as the presidential and national assembly elections will hold in the first quarter of 2023.