Wednesday, April 24Inside Business Africa

Local airlines record slow traffic after Yuletide rush

Lagos records 551,380 passengers in six month
Domestic air travel has returned to its low traffic profile of the COVID-19 era after the December rush at major airports across the country.

The Guardian observed that traffic across major routes has dropped by 50 per cent, with attendant impacts on load factors and airlines’ frequencies.

This is coming as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) hinted that the Murtala Muhammad Airport (MMA), Lagos, recorded a total of 551,380 passenger traffic, with a total of 6, 261 aircraft movements from July to December last year.

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of one of the carriers, yesterday, said the latest drop in traffic was expected in the New Year and in the middle of a pandemic.

“Do not forget that we are still facing the pandemic, if not the second wave that has been said to be deadlier than the first. So, traveller apathy is still there. Except it is very important, not too many people want to travel these days. For operators, the rollercoaster is expected and we have to adjust and plan our services accordingly,” he said.

The terminal manager of MMA, Adekunle Aderibigbe, observed that passengers’ turnout in the twilight of 2020 was the most encouraging, compensating for the downturn that trailed the post-lockdown.

According to statistics released, inbound passengers recorded 270, 828 whereas departures stood at 280, 552 passengers in the six-month period.

A total of 3,068 aircraft landed at the airport between July and December 2020 while 3,193 aircraft took off from same airport during the period.

Aderibigbe explained that initial passengers’ turnout at the commencement of flight operations after the lockdown was not too impressive through gradually picked during the yuletide.

He noted that airlines last December witnessed a surge in passenger traffic but “were able to manage their passengers as more aircraft were deployed to accommodate passengers”.Aderibigbe explained that safety, security and comfort of passengers remained their priority, especially while complying with COVID-19 protocols, adding that adamant passengers were forced to comply.

He said some high-profile passengers remained their greatest challenge, as some of them refused to cooperate with the protocols on the ground.

He, however, noted that sanity had returned to almost every port of entry as the COVID-19 realities made people sit up, observing the safety protocols.

The terminal manager revealed that all the facilities put in place following the outbreak of the pandemic were being maintained and with the second wave, the compliance team had been going round to ensure nobody is left out.

Aderibigbe noted that the management had been holding meetings with stakeholders and would continue to do that especially with the second wave of the pandemic

He said both terminal and the airport had been dislodged of unwanted visitors to avoid bottleneck on the access roads, even as arriving passengers now board their vehicles at the terminal carpark. Ticketing agents in the terminal have been sent out and online patronage encouraged, which has reduced touting at Lagos airport.

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