Foreign airlines (27) airlifted 1,112,884 outbound passengers in 2021 and only 1,086,394 inbound passengers were recorded in the year under review.
This was disclosed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) via its Executive summary of International and domestic flights.
According to the document, which was obtained by Nairametrics, 2,199, 278 passengers comprising 1,086,394 inbound and 1,112,884 outbound respectively were recorded in 2021 in 9,675 flights. This is only about 50% of the traffics recorded in 2019 (pre-COVID), but it is an indication that the sector is making a gradual rebound.
British Airways operated 584 flights with 107,519 inbound and 130,820 outbound passengers
Turkish Airline did 669 flights with 95,302 inbound and 115, 283 outbound passengers.
Lufthansa operated 555 flights airlifting 75,641 and 78,139 inbound and outbound passengers
Qatar Airways did 679 flights with 111,964 and 116,664 inbound and outbound passengers
However, Emirates operated 225 flights with 27,960 inbound and 18,238 outbound passengers. The airline, which could have led the chart with 21 weekly frequencies, was banned from operation for several months in 2021 due to disagreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Nigerian government over COVID-19 protocols.
The flight operations indicated a trend of migration as more people left the country than returned, as some of the major airlines’ passengers enroute the United Kingdom, Canada among others did not return.
Nairametrics observed a migration trend to Europe and Middle East countries. For instance, Turkish Airline airlifted more people out than it brought back. No fewer than 115, 283 travelled out while only 95,302 returned to the country.
This is similar to Qatar Airways’ figure which showed 116,664 travelling with the airline while 111,964 returned with the airline. Also, British Airways report also indicated that while 130,820 passengers left through the airline, only 107,519 returned.
Experts, who spoke with Nairametrics in separate interviews, explained that the development witnessed in the international arm of the sector is an indication that there is a steady migration trend in the country.
An aviation analyst, Muyiwa Ajanaku, explained that though the international traffic is still low, compared with the pre-COVID-19 traffic, the data showed that most people that go out of Nigeria, especially to Istanbul enroute UK; London enroute Canada do not return.
He said, “It is certain that most people on that route will not return anytime soon and why the figure is not much is that most people on inbound flights were not the ones that left but some traders, expatriates and passengers with visiting visas.
“What we saw in 2021 is only 50% traffic recorded in 2019. From the look of things, we can attribute the development to a migration trend.”
Bimbo Olaniyi, an investor in the sector, attributed the migration trend to poor economy and insecurity in the country. He insists the frequency of migration could have been more but for covid restrictions in some of the host countries.
“I think insecurity contributed both positively and negatively because now people can hardly travel by road and we have more people getting out of the country.
“The figure would have hit the roof but for travel restrictions placed by several countries including UK, Canada among others. For about a year, Canada was not treating the Permanent Residency Applications submitted due to new Covid-19 variants witnessed across the globe. This figure will further increase by the end of 2022 because I will also join them,” he said.
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