Thursday, March 23

Nigerian Local Airlines May Soon Close Shop

By Henry Akubuiro

In the row of seats where I was sitting, I was a solitary passenger out of six, gaping into the void intermittently like a homunculus. Looking over my shoulder, there were many empty seats you wouldn’t usually find on eastern routes. It was the only flight for the day, yet more than half of the seats were unoccupied. What could be worse than having a bad day in business for a major carrier in Nigeria and others operating in the country?

Yesterday, the message sank into me fully that the new flight increment by local airlines in the country were counterproductive, despite the aviation fuel argument, using the Anambra Airport experience yesterday as a point of reference.
This airport is located in the middle of one of Nigeria’s commercial nerve centres with high purchasing power — from Nnewi to Onitsha — a state reputed for having the highest number of millioniares per square kilometer in Nigeria, yet a major airline is flying out of here slightly half empty, losing not less than seven million naira in a single flight!
That shows you Nigerians are not coping at all with the flight hike, from the lower class, middle class to the upper class. If nothing is done urgently about the increment, I am afraid local airlines in the country may soon close shop. I think it’s better to remain afloat in business and wait for the storm to pass than losing passengers and crashing the business. Who will belll the cat?

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