Nigeria’s domestic aviation under threat as Nigeria grants Qatar flight rights to Kano, PH

  • Turkish to resume PH route March 28th
  • Experts kick
Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with Qatar got further expanded as Qatar Airways has announced Kano and Port Harcourt, doubling its network to Nigeria.  Ethiopian Airlines has been dubbed a part of Nigeria’s ‘domestic’ carrier because of the several destinations it operates to in the country.
Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines will resume Istanbul-Port Harcourt from March 28th. It’ll operate on a triangular basis, routing Istanbul-Port Harcourt-Malabo-Istanbul, three-weekly using B737-900ERs.
 Ethiopian on the other hand operates to Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu, and Kaduna, just that there are indications that the airline could expand to other airports in the country, further making domestic airline operations for Nigerian carriers unprofitable.
Qatar Airways aircraft
Starting in less than two months, Qatar Air will route via Abuja, with the Nigerian capital rising to once-daily.
Meanwhile, it seems that Lagos’s frequency will be reduced by half as information that is sketchy as at the time of this report.
This is coming amid criticisms from aviation stakeholders who view the ‘dashing’ of flight rights to foreign carriers on multiple destinations as rather injurious to the domestic aviation market and one that put Nigerian airlines at a great disadvantage.
The idea of allowing foreign carriers to operate to many cities in Nigeria and the fifth freedom right they said may have killed the desire for a hub in the country.
Former Managing Director of Associated Airlines, Dr. Alex Nwuba said, “When you divert business from domestic carriers that create thousands of jobs and substitute with one that hires three Nigerians, the government must compensate the economy by charging the foreign carriers and distributing a major part of the bounty to domestic airlines… This is how you stimulate the economy and create a win-win… This model creates a no complaint model”.
 Former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (Rtd) said rather than allow foreign airlines unfettered access to many points in the country, he called for the activation of commercial agreements with foreign airlines which could fetch the nation over several millions of dollars even without having airlines from Nigeria to reciprocate BASA.
His words, ‘Nigeria Airways was collecting about $50/pax on commercial Agreements outside the BASA up till 2010. By the time Oduah took over more than $200m was in the commercial Agreements and BASA account.
Kano and Port Harcourt will join Qatar Airways’ Africa network, meaning the carrier will now serve four cities across Nigeria. That’s twice as many as Emirates, one more than Turkish Airlines, and the same number as Ethiopian Airlines, by far Africa’s largest airline.
The two additions bring to eight the number of African destinations added by Qatar Airways since the pandemic started.
 They join Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Harare, Luanda, and Lusaka, while Cairo and Alexandria resumed following the end of the blockade.
As Hendrik Du Preez, the airline’s Vice-President for Africa, said last year: “there is huge potential across the continent for new routes.” Expect more announcements soon.
 Qatar Airways currently spends nearly 10 hours on the ground in Abuja (ABV). This significant downtime, for connectivity reasons, has enabled Kano (KAN) and Port Harcourt (PHC) to be added.
Doha-Kano will run on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and Doha-Port Harcourt on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Kano starts on March 2nd and Port Harcourt the next day. They have the following schedule (all times are local) and they’ll use 254-seat B787-8s, with 22 seats in business and 232 in the economy.
Booking data shows that from Kano, Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, India, and the UK will be among the largest markets to target.
The two added cities mean that Abuja will rise to once-daily. Launched 13 months ago, it operated four-weekly via Lagos until December 2021. It ditched the one-stop but continued to operate four-weekly non-stop. Now it’ll rise to daily.
The aircraft currently remains on the ground in Abuja from 07:20 until 21:05, so it’s very easy to fit in Kano and Port Harcourt. One-stops are important to Qatar Airways, but there will be no eighth freedom traffic rights (so-called cabotage) as these are domestic links.
The one-stop via Lagos helped that city – the largest in Africa – to become twice-daily. However, its website shows it’ll reduce to once-daily, and the B787-8 will still operate. That’s a significant capacity drop, but it’ll hopefully help with fares, load factor, and overall performance.
In particular, Kano sees Ethiopian Airlines to Addis Ababa (returning February 16th; three-weekly using the B787-8), Saudia to Jeddah (returning March 29th,
Wole Shadare

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