Despite high int’l, domestic ticket costs, Nigerian passenger traffic soars

  • Expert lists high economic activities, mass exodus, others as reason
  • African World Airways operated most flights by African airline
  • ValueJet records lowest delayed flights


Despite the high costs of airfares on both international and domestic routes, more travelers took to air travel last year according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The figure is one million higher than the traffic recorded in 2021.

High cost of fares had elicited concerns among travelers and travel agents under the aegis of the National Association of Travel Agencies (NANTA) who decried the continued increment in the price of local and international airfares.

To them, it was unacceptable to Nigerians and the trade association. President of NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye said it was disheartening that Nigerians had to buy tickets to the tune of N3 million and be charged as high as N1 million to change travel dates, even on tickets bought before the problem of seized funds of foreign airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria (VBN) began.

Foreign airlines in flight

According to the NCAA in its executive summary, over 16 million travelers flew in and out of Nigeria between January and December 2022.

While the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last year stated that a total of 15,225,627 travellers passed through Nigeria’s airports in 2021, in 2022, 16 million passengers flew in and out of Nigeria between January and December 2022.

Three reasons such as the increase in economic activities increase in travel events and the desperation of a high number of youths and professionals who left the country drove for the proverbial greener pastures abroad.

Travel expert and founder of Akwaaba Travel Market, Mr. Ikechi Uko told listed the three factors as possible reasons for the increase in 2022 traffic figures.

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Uko told Aviation Metric that many people who yearned to travel but were not allowed to do s,o took advantage of the opening of the airspace across the globe to embark on air travel in outside the country.

He equally stated that the desire by many people to leave the country due to the desire to get better life coupled with the huge number of people who left the country for academics led to the rise in traffic for 2022.

Some existing Nigerian airlines

The country is yet to match the 2019 traffic which is considered one of the best ever recorded in the history of aviation in Nigeria which stood at 18 million. In 2020, the world experienced a slump in global air traffic due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which did incalculable damage to air traffic worldwide.

The trend continued in 2021 but saw a remarkable improvement that year but saw a better improvement in 2022.

Meanwhile, thousands of passengers that flew in and out of Nigeria in 2022 were left without any luggage or answers about where their bags went.

Nearly 5,000 flights were either delayed or canceled on international routes, and a total of 48,234 baggage items were declared either missing or delayed, according to an executive summary by the NCAA.

Europe’s mega carrier, KLM had the highest number of missing baggage, with 5,622 pieces reported missing or delayed, although 5,244 items were subsequently found.

Air France and Delta were second and third, with a total of 9,822 baggage items lost, although 90% of it was recovered successfully. Emirates handled passenger baggage nearly perfectly, as only 174 items went missing, with 172 later found.

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The documents also showed the total number of flights by both foreign and local airlines.

Crowded Lagos airport

Thirty-seven airlines operated flights through Nigeria in 2022, with 26 airlines operating 13,003 flights on international routes and 11 airlines operating 80,328 on domestic ones.

Although more international airlines were traveling to this famous destination, more passengers traveled domestically and regionally.

Egypt air was one of the leading African carriers to fly to Nigeria from its hub in Cairo and many other airports. It operated 706 flights, but half were delayed, while none were canceled.

There were also 732 complaints filed, but the Nigerian NCAA said, “Most of the cases were resolved after follow-up and additional backlog from previous months.”

The Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos was the busiest. Many international airlines increased the number of passengers they carried to and from Nigeria in 2022 compared to the previous year. Inbound passengers were 1,648,255, while outbound passengers amounted to 1,855,467.

Regarding passenger traffic, Ethiopian Airlines flew the most passengers to and from Nigeria. Over 400,000 passengers traveled to Nigeria on Ethiopian. British Airways was second, carrying 273,138 travelers on 616 flights. In contrast, Emirates Airlines flew the most passengers on the least number of flights, flying 177,140 travelers on only 365 flights.

Most international flights departed and arrived in Nigeria during April, July, and August, but Africa World, the most scheduled airline, had its highest number of flights in December.

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Not surprisingly, the highest traffic at Nigerian airports was in December, with 347,497 passengers. However, Ethiopian, the leading carrier, flew its highest number of passengers in September.

Africa World Airlines, the Ghanaian carrier, operated 1,367 flights through Nigeria which was the most by any African carrier.  It had 21% of its flights delayed, but none were canceled.

Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Air Peace, operated the most international flights for any Nigerian carrier, while Qatar Airways had the highest number of flights for non-African airlines.

Air Peace operated 1,258 flights, with 532 of them delayed and none of them canceled. It carried 115,410 passengers in the process, while Azman Air, another Nigerian carrier, only operated one flight, carrying 209 passengers.

Although 15 more international airlines were flying to and from Nigeria, more passengers traveled in and around the country during the period in question.

From 11 airlines, 80,328 flights operated on domestic routes, with over 12 million passengers leaving and departing Nigerian airports.

Arik Air operated 9,759 flights and carried the most passengers, with a staggering 1,741,425 people flying Arik. With this tremendous operating schedule, 60% of its flights were delayed, while 3% were canceled. 58% of all total domestic flights were delayed.

ValueJet had the lowest percentage of delayed flights, with 26% departing and arriving at their destinations late. Ibom Air had 32% of flights delayed which was lower than the other nine carriers.

Wole Shadare