The Nigerian aviation industry experienced a significant number of flight delays in the first quarter of 2023, according to a report from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Among 36 domestic and international airlines, a total of 11,321 (over 53%) flight delays were recorded out of 21,295 flights.
International Airlines’ Delayed Flights Breakdown
The report revealed that international airlines accounted for 1,193 delays, with Ethiopian Airlines and Asky Airlines having the highest number of delays at 115 and 107, respectively, out of 270 and 295 flights. A further breakdown of the delays for international airlines indicates;
Africa World Airlines (AWA) had 97 delays, Air Cote d’Ivoire; 92, Air France; 25, Air Peace (international routes); 167, BADR Airlines; 15, British Airways; 83, Cronos Airlines; nine, Delta Airlines; 17 and Egypt Air 96 – delayed flights in the first quarter of 2023.
Other airlines with delayed flights included – Kenya Airways 47, KLM Airlines 22, Lufthansa Airlines 19, Middle East Airlines 4, Qatar Airways 82, Royal Air Maroc 32 Rwandair 65, Saudi Airlines 28, South African Airways 8, TAAG Angola 6, Tarco Airlines 2, Turkish Airlines 43, United Airlines 1 and Virgin Atlantic Airways 11 – delayed flights.
On the domestic front, 11 domestic operators had a total of 10,128 flight delays. Air Peace accounted for 37% of the total delayed flights of 3,754 out of their 6,521 flight operations, indicating a delay rate of about 60% of their flight operations. Other local airlines with delays include;
Aero Contractors; 624, Arik Air 926, Azman Air 385, Dana Air 472, Overland Airways 605, Ibom Air 746, United Nigeria Airways 910, Green Africa Airways 443 and Value Jet with 248 flight delays within the period.
Domestic Airlines and Factors Contributing to Delays
In an interview with Nairametrics, Dr Alex Nwuba, the President of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association of Nigeria (AOPAN), emphasized that multiple factors contribute to these delays.
He expressed that it would be unfair to solely blame the airlines for the delays and highlighted the shared responsibility between the airlines and airport authorities, particularly the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Nwuba mentioned inadequate infrastructure and weather-related occurrences as some of the factors contributing to flight delays. He acknowledged that Nigerian carriers faced challenges in maintaining on-time schedule integrity, which ultimately led to reputational issues and subsequent delays.
Nwuba emphasized the need for continuous service improvement from both the airline operators and FAAN to address these concerns.
Furthermore, Nwuba pointed out that delays tend to have a cascading effect, as one delay often leads to additional delays.
He cited the limited capacity of the check-in area at the Abuja airport as an example, stating that the volume of aircraft operating at a given time exceeded the available space, resulting in delays during the check-in process, security checks, and boarding.
“Take the Abuja airport for example, the check-in area is too small for the volume of aircraft that operate at a particular time. So, if you come on time to fly out, by the time your passengers go through the check-in process, the security process, the gates and others, they are invariably going to be delays and the problem with delays is that they are cascading.
“One delay leads to further delays and more. It is very difficult in our environment to fix a delay, which is why we know in Nigeria, the first flight is the most reliable and as you get further into the day, you have further delays.
“However, some of the delays are sometimes caused by the airports themselves. We also have weather-related delays and anything that starts, always cascades to something worse, but we really can shape up and change our services.”
Nwuba emphasized the importance of addressing these issues to improve service delivery within the Nigerian aviation industry.
He called for concerted efforts from both the airlines and FAAN to implement necessary improvements and mitigate the various factors contributing to flight delays.
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