Insecurity fuels high demand for air travel amid aircraft shortage

  • Ground handling firms seek waiver, others from FG


High level insecurity on many of the country’s roads occasioned by banditry and other forms of criminality is helping to see a rise in air travel.

Amid the rise in passengers choice of air travel, virtually all the airlines lack capacity to cater for teeming number of passengers turning at airports because of acute shortage of aircraft as many of the operators lack the necessary foreign exchange to bring back their airplanes that were ferried to many maintenance facilities offshore.

While many are turning up for flights that are extremely expensive, only few can afford the astronomically huge fares which ironically has forced them to take to road travel which they dread.

This situation has dampened morale and has led to carriers to engage in flight delays and cancellations because they do not have aircraft to carry passengers booked on their ‘non-existent flights’ as aircraft rotations are done in a way that are extremely difficult both for operators and passengers.

The carriers according to experts have taken advantage of the situation to clandestinely raise fares by over 50 per cent and in some cases by 75 per cent as supply can no longer meet demands.

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Managing Director of Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited Plc (SAHCO), Mr. Basil Agboarumi who spoke to reporters said that most airlines’ aircraft are down and could not be brought back to service because of paucity of foreign exchange, stressing that aircraft spare parts are not manufactured in Nigeria but overseas.

His words, “This time around, people want to fly but the capacity is not there because many people are afraid to travel on the road as a result of insecurity on the roads. This is the time aviation should have taken full advantage but the number of aircraft on ground cannot fully meet up the demands. So you can see the effects of foreign exchange coming up from N360 to what it is today”.


Managing Director of SAHCOL, Mr. Basil Agboarumi

Agboarumi disclosed that freight business has made great improvements, but quick to point out that they were yet to get to 2019 level before the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We are getting to 80 to 90 on cargo and passengers, both international and domestic; we are at about 60 per cent or thereabout because some of the airlines have not returned back as we speak. On domestic, we can say all the airlines have resumed but not at that capacity that we were at December 2019”, he stated.

The SAHCOL MD pleaded with the Federal Government to extend waiver concession to ground handling firms, maintaining that ground handling firms are part of the entire chain of the aviation industry.

To him, ground handling is key in flight operations and movement of passengers, baggage and cargo from one point to another.

“We felt that no matter what the government is doing for the airlines, ground handling should be included and benefit from it too. It is just the same way aircraft are gotten from abroad that is ours are brought in because none of our equipment is manufactured in Nigeria. We also place orders so that the manufacturers build them. We pay quite a lot of money to get in our handling equipment”.

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“We believe that what should be done is that same kind of waivers that the airlines are enjoying should also be extended to us to make life easier for us. Recently, we formed an association and this is one of the major things that they are to fight like this. But we are taking our case to the government, Ministry of Aviation and the NCAA as the representative of government in the aviation industry”.

“The last point was NCAA requesting for some information from us and some of the things that we learnt has to do with the issues have been raised in some higher places and they needed to submit data and positions. So we submitted our position and I believe that they have taken it from us and we are expecting a feedback from government in that regard”, he added.

Wole Shadare


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