By Charles C. Opara
The cancellation of all Domestic flights on Saturday and the subsequent cancellations of all domestic flights on election days will cost Nigerian domestic airlines daily revenue loss of about N1.3 Billion.
According to the Acting General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA), Mrs. Olajumoke Adetona, the airspace will not be closed.
All the domestic airlines, namely : Arik Air, Aero Contractor, Dana Air, Medview Air, Air Peace, Asman Air, and First Nation did not operate any domestic flights on Saturday, March 28th and they did not operate on Saturday 11th April because of restrictions in vehicular and physical movements on these elections days. Passengers had to reschedule their flight on the 28th of March.
Arik Air and Aero Contractors will mostly affected by the suspension of flights on elections days. “Arik and Aero control over 65 per cent of the market and each lost an estimated N242 million on Saturday March 28 as Aero has the highest load factor per aircraft.” Arik Air which has “about 40 per cent market share operates an average of 120 flights daily, followed by Aero that operates about 70 flights daily” were compelled to cancel their flights schedules for Saturday, when the Presidential and National Assembly elections held.
Speaking on the suspension of flights on election days, the Acting General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Mrs. Olajumoke Adetona, told AMEN Super News that “I learnt from information I heard from INEC over the radio that there is not going to be movement between the hours of 8am and 5pm on Saturday which is the election day.”
“But that is not to say that the airspace will be closed to flight operations for the day. As soon as the election is over flights can take off immediately even there are going to be some of our staff that will man the equipment at the airport at the various stations in case of any eventuality that will warrant flight operations for that day.” But after a meeting of the domestic airlines operators, a decision was reached that there will not be domestic flights on election days.
Speaking with AMEN Super News on the cancellation of flights, Dana Air Chief Commercial officer, Mr Obi Mbanuzuo said the airlines decided not to fly on election days since there will be restrictions on movement from 8am to 5pm. And the possibility of starting flight operations for the day from 6pm is remote as most passengers will rather defer their journey to the next day.
On lots of revenue for the day, Mbanuzuo said the airlines will loose millions of Naira on ticket sales. But he refused to give exact figure or amount the airlines will loose. He however agreed, it will run into billions. He added that this is one of the economic sacrifices the airlines have to make to deepen Nigeria’s democracy.