Nigerian airlines are recording low passenger traffic as fears continue to mount over the perceived crisis that may trail the outcome of the presidential election conducted over the weekend by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Also, travel agencies across the country are recording low patronage from their clients due to the same uncertainties surrounding the outcome of the election.
Findings by Nairametrics: When our correspondent visited the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos on Tuesday, the counters of most of the airlines were almost empty. This was despite the suspension of operations by Dana Air, which should automatically have increased traffic for other airlines.
The situation was not so different at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of Lagos Airport where Air Peace and a few other airlines operate from.
Our correspondent observed at the MMA2 terminal today that apart from the first flights of most of the airlines that originate out of the airport at 6 a.m.; Green Africa, 6:30a.m; Air Peace; Azman Air, Max Air, Valuejet and Aero Contractors and among others that recorded about 70 per cent passenger traffic, second flights of most of the airlines recorded less than 40 per cent traffic.
Apart from travels within the country, it was also learnt that bookings to neighbouring African countries were cancelled by some of the air travellers.
Travel agencies affected: A travel agent, Mrs Ngozi Eze, said that the company had been recording low patronage since last week, obviously because of the election.
According to her, some of her clients who had earlier booked travel to various airports across the country, including Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, have cancelled their flights.
She explained that unlike in the past when the travel company would have recorded over 30 bookings within two days, her company had recorded less than 10 books in the past 48 hours. She said:
- “It is bad that the year 2023 started with lots of hopes for travel companies despite the scheduling of the elections at this time by INEC, but the last week has been very bad and poor to travel companies.
- “However, we hope that things would improve in the coming weeks because we have been facing huge challenges in the past months, especially since January 2022 because of the trapped funds of the foreign airlines. We need to look at our electoral laws and make them more seamless and attractive to investors.
- “Some of the clients are not sure of what may happen within the week and beyond because of the tension in the land in the past week.”
What air passengers are saying: One of the passengers spoken with today by our correspondent, Mr Wale Adeokun, expressed hope that the situation would not turn to chaos.
According to Adeokun, a passenger of Air Peace to Abuja, the situation would not degenerate further and appealed to politicians to sheath their swords.
He explained that most of the fears were expected, but assured it would be addressed by the Federal Government. He said:
- “This is not the first time we are having elections in this country and the palpable fears have always been the same. We remember what happened in 2015 during the President Goodluck Jonathan era. The fear was high, but we were able to address it.
- “Personally, I don’t think there will be any crisis. The election has been conducted and it was successful. I will only appeal to politicians not to engulf this country on fire.”
What you should know: Most of the airlines, especially charter operators, recorded an upsurge in the pre-election months with most politicians engaging the operators.
Also, among the scheduled operators, airfares have skyrocketed in the last 10 months by 100 per cent from an average of N25,000 for one-way tickets to N50,000 and above.