By Chinedu Eze
Records of passenger traffic on inbound and outbound flights have indicated that foreign airlines are increasing frequencies into Nigeria as a result of an uptick in economic activities.
In a recent data released by African Aviation Services Limited, foreign airlines operate over 300 frequencies weekly into and out of Nigeria.
This showed an increase of 22 per cent from about 220 weekly frequencies operated by foreign airlines two years ago.
Ethiopian Airlines has the highest entry points into Nigeria, which is five airports.
Ethiopian and ASKY together operate 54 frequencies weekly into Nigeria. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate 21 frequencies weekly into Nigeria.
The breakdown further showed that African World Airways (AWA) has 49 frequencies per week; Cronos Airlines (proposed); EgypAir with 16; Air France 15; Saudi Arabian Airways 13; Emirates 11; Lufthansa 11; Air Cote d’Ivoire10; Qatar 9; South African Airways 7.
Others were Delta, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, Sudan Airways, Turkish Airways, which enjoy seven frequencies without reciprocity from Nigerian airlines.
Also, Etihad has five frequencies; Fly Mid Africa has four; Middle East Airlines – four and Air Italy formerly Meridiana has three weekly flights to the country.
Industry expert and Chief Executive Officer, Aglo Limited, Tayo Ojuri, that the airline business is often the first hit during recession and will improve once the economy recovers.
Ojuri, explained that the direct implication of improvement in the economy is that there will be increase in the purchasing power of people, which will enable them buy tickets to travel.
There are indices that indicate economic rebound for the country. Oil production recovered to 1.8 million barrels as at January 2018, according to OPEC data, from as low as 1.2 million barrels daily in the thick of militant disruptions.
These factors contributed to lifting the economy from recession in the second quarter of 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The economy has consolidated its exit from recession after growing 0.8 percent in 2017 compared to a 1.6 percent contraction the previous year.
These developments are coming two years after foreign airlines operating in Nigeria had their $600 million blocked at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which final tranche was paid in March this year.
Emirates Airlines which reduced its three frequencies daily in Lagos and Abuja airports reduced their daily service to one. The airline has returned two flights daily to Lagos and one flight daily to Abuja.
Some of the airlines have increased the size of their operating aircraft, which those yet to change theirs are recording high load factor per flight.