Several travellers now prefer short-haul flights to travel by road, according to findings by Nairametrics. This was also confirmed by travellers who spoke with Nairametrics in separate interviews.
Short-haul flights are air trips lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Medium-haul flights last between 3 and 6 hours while long-haul flights are those that extend beyond 6 hours.
Going by what our respondents disclosed, short-haul flights have become the choice over travelling by road, whether they are local or international trips (within the continent).
Why do passengers prefer short-haul flights?
A cloth merchant, Bisi Olukoya, who imports fabrics from Ghana and other neighbouring countries to sell in Nigeria, told our analyst that before now, she prefered travelling by road from Nigeria to the Republic of Benin, Togo and Ghana, but changed her mind when the Federal Government shut the land borders.
Although she admitted that travelling by road was cheaper and more flexible for picking up fabrics while on a trip across the West African sub-region, she alluded that air travel was safer, faster and more convenient. For instance, she could complete a shopping trip to Ghana and back in half the time it traditionally took her to make the same trip by road and still convert a few co-passengers to customers for her business.
“It is obvious that travelling by air has a greater risk, which is air crash and no one will survive such, but that only happens on rare occasions. Short-haul flights are safer and also create opportunities for me to meet potential clients for my fabric business and my other businesses too.
“Over 50% of my new clients were the people I met en route Ghana or back home. I definitely make my profit from mark up prices of my goods and make use of the opportunity to tell other passengers about my fashion designing and my Public Relations outfits,” she said.
What attracts Samuel Oni, a Lagos-based contractor of both Kwara and Ondo State governments based in Lagos, is the arrival of some new airlines. Their arrival, according to him, has pushed down the cost of air tickets in the country.
Contrary to the projections of some experts who had said that airlines would not reduce fares due to some operational challenges, he lauded the efforts of the likes of Green Africa Airways, who broke the jinx and slashed its prices by over 50%.
He said, “For instance, its airfares for Lagos and Abuja and vice-versa are between N16,500 and N23,000.”
The airline, which primarily focuses on six domestic destinations, including Abuja, Port Harcourt, Akure, Ilorin, Enugu and Owerri, charges N16,500 from Lagos to Port Harcourt, while others charged about N60,000 in April. Flights to Akure, Ondo and Ilorin, which used to be around N50,000 in April, were fixed at N16,500 respectively.
“This is the attraction for me because it’s not worth it to risk my life travelling by road due to the poor states of the roads. I have heard cases of people that were abducted while traveling to Akure, and while some of them were released after paying ransom, others never returned. There is no point in taking unnecessary and avoidable risks.”
What NCAA is saying
In an exclusive interview, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) spokesperson, Sam Adurogboye, told Nairametrics that the demand for flights had risen in Nigeria and the operators were expanding their operations to meet the demand.
He said, “There are still several investment opportunities in the aviation sector. More Nigerians will always prefer the short-haul flights to travelling by road due to insecurity and cheaper air fare.
“We assure Nigerians and other stakeholders that NCAA will do everything possible to safeguard the interests of all and ensure more investors join the league of operators.”
What you should know
The increasing demand for short-haul flights, especially with the arrival of new entrants in the aviation sector, has made existing airlines to purchase more aircraft to explore opportunities within and outside Nigeria.
For instance, Air Peace, recently announced that its scheduled commercial flights from Lagos and Port Harcourt to Douala, the capital of Cameroon, will commence on August 19, 2021. According to the airline, it is also set to launch the Abuja-Ibadan route on August 17.
Stanley Olisa, the spokesperson of the airline, explained that the Douala route would operate three days weekly, while the Ibadan route would be daily.
He said, “These new routes will be operated with our ultramodern Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, and as we take delivery of more brand new E195-E2s as well as other aircraft undergoing maintenance abroad, we shall reinstate more routes and open up more connections.
“Air Peace’s resolve to continue providing peaceful and strategic connectivity is in line with its no-city-left-behind drive.”
Air Peace, which is one of the leading airlines in the country, has resumed most of its regional routes that were suspended due to the covid-19 outbreak and the lockdown that ensued last year.
The airline, which has also restored its Freetown, Banjul, Dakar, and Accra services, currently services 17 domestic routes, five regional routes, and two international destinations, including Johannesburg.