World Bank: Nigeria Needs More Air Carriers, Competition

World Bank: Nigeria Needs More Air Carriers, Competition

Nigeria’s population could soon exceed 200 million, but less than 10 percent of its citizens travel by air.

World Bank reports that aviation in Nigeria needs more air carriers, more competition and more government support. This would cause fares to go down to a rate average Nigerians can afford, and that would triple the number of air travelers, according to a World Bank audit, eTurboNews reports.

With more competition among air carriers, the cost of travel would go down and air travel should go up to 40 percent of the population, according to an eTurboNews report.

For more Nigerians to travel by air at affordable rates and for airlines to operate profitably, the average number of domestic carriers should be 25, according to World Bank.

The Nigerian government should help reduce charges and taxes, check the high price of aviation fuel and continue to modernize airports, World Bank told the Nigerian government after auditing Nigeria’s airlines.

“This operational audit has shown that the aviation industry in Nigeria needs on average 25 domestic airline operators to serve the growing passenger numbers, which at 2010 stood at 14 million serving the major airports: Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt,” according to a statement by Nigeria’s Ministry of Aviation.

Ideally, with the growth of Nigeria’s economy, growing working population and growing number of youth, it is expected that at least 40 percent of Nigerians should travel by air, especially as there is limited alternative transportation, eTurboNews reports.

Besides roads, there is no other well developed means of transportation. The rail system is yet to emerge as a dependable alternative and only those who live near waterways travel by boat. With more than 25 airports located mainly at state capitals, more people should travel by air if the air fares are relatively low, the report said.

Ideally, about 70 million Nigerians should travel by air but existing capacity
of domestic carriers is “grossly low and the fares are outrageously high,” according to eTurboNews. A one-hour flight costs about $80 (about 13,500 naira).

Airlines say that the government is not giving domestic carriers needed incentives, according to the report. Airlines have refused to carry out measures that would enhance better operating environment, and seem unwillingness to cooperate through interlining and other code sharing measures.

MedView Airline CEO Alhaji Muneer Bankole said high fares were linked to high cost of aviation fuel. High fuel cost “eats up the revenue of airlines, taking over 40 percent of operational cost of putting aircraft in the air,” he said.

Airlines complain about high charges by aviation agencies, including a 5 percent tax on tickets by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.

Bankole said that these charges stifle growth of indigenous airlines and this explains why Nigerian operators have limited capacity. He laments that country of more than 170
million has barely six (indigenous) operating airlines, many with few aircraft in their fleets.

Airlines operating in Nigeria

These 17 airlines have air operator certificates issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nigeria, according to Wikipedia: Aero Contractors; Allied Air, Arik AirAirport, Associated Aviation, Capital AirlinesAirport, Chanchangi Airlines, Dana Air, Dornier Aviation Nigeria, First Nation Airways, IRS Airlines, Kabo Air, Max Air, Med-View Airline, Overland Airways, Pan African Airlines, TAT Nigeria and Wings Aviation.

International airports in Nigeria

International airports in Nigeria include the following:

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja;

Akanu Ibiam International Airport; Enugu;

Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano;

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos;

Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt.