Aviation: Recession Hits Air Travel To Nigeria

During the coming five months, August – December 2017, there will be 16 per cent fewer airline seats on domestic routes and 9 per cent fewer on international routes to and from Lagos, an analyses of seat capacity to top ten international airports in Africa has shown
ForwardKeys, an aviation body reveals that Lagos is seeing substantial declines in both domestic and international capacity, mainly because Arik Air is cutting 53 per cent of its seats for the rest of 2017.

Commenting on this data, Jon Howell, Managing Director of AviaDev, Africa’s leading airline route development conference, said: “One of the major reasons for falling arrivals by air to Nigeria, is the fact that many airlines could not repatriate funds after the currency crisis in 2016. As a result, Iberia and United Airlines have ceased operations to Nigeria, whilst Emirates and the other foreign carriers have scaled back services.

“The Nigerian airlines have suffered too and so this void has been filled by the ever-opportunistic Ethiopian Airlines, who began serving their fifth Nigerian destination, Kaduna on 1st August 2017 and are now the largest carrier in the Nigerian market.”

Most of the other airports in Africa’s top ten are seeing a healthy growth in capacity, which is more international than it is domestic. However, the most notable exception to this trend is Nairobi, which is seeing a 22 per cent boost in domestic capacity.

These findings are part of a wider report on travel to Africa, produced by ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by analyzing 17 million booking transactions a day. It shows double-digit growth in flight arrivals for the first half of this year and little indication that the pace of growth will slow down soon.

The report reveals that in the first seven months of the year, 1st Jan – 31st July 2017, total international flight arrivals grew by 14.0 per cent over the same period in 2016. Most significantly, growth was stronger for travel to and from the continent than within the continent. Arrivals from Europe, which make up 46 per cent of the market, were up 13.2 per cent.

From the Americas, arrivals were up 17.6 per cent; from the Middle East, they were up 14.0 per cent and from Asia Pacific, they were up 18.4 per cent.  By comparison, intra-African air travel, which makes up 26 per cent of the market, was up 12.6 per cent.

Looking at Africa’s top ten destination countries, there have been standout performances from Tunisia and Egypt, which are recovering from notorious terrorist attacks two years ago, up 33.5 per cent and 24.8 per cent respectively.

In addition, Morocco and Tunisia received a huge boost in arrivals from China, up 450 per cent and 250 per cent respectively, after they relaxed visa restrictions. The one disappointment is Nigeria, which has seen a 0.8 per cent drop, in the wake of recession in 2016, caused by a collapse in the oil price to a 13-year low.

Olivier Jager, CEO, ForwardKeys, said: “The growth in air travel to Africa is impressive. However, it is notable that consumer demand and airline investment is greater in travel to African countries from outside the continent than it is between African countries.”

Jon Howell, Aviation and Tourism Development Manager, concluded: “As an international executive who has travelled around Africa for many years, I am longing for the day when it is easier to fly directly between African cities, as is possible on other continents.

“I am sure I’m not alone in that desire and I’m equally sure, it will happen eventually. That’s why I’m determined that the discussions that will take place at AviaDev will help bring that vision closer.”