By Shola Adekola | Lagos
Nigerian airlines have witnessed a surge in traffic in January amid challenges posed by insecurity coupled with poor roads, with passengers ditching road transport for air travel despite high fares in the face of a cash crunch.
Growth in air travel in Nigeria is in line with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) declaring that air travel demand will continue to recover in 2023, based on January traffic results.
With the increase in the number of state-owned airports, the apparent growth of air traffic in Nigeria may likewise be possible.
According to IATA traffic results for January, total traffic (measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometers or RPK) in January 2023 increased by 67.0% compared to January 2022, with global traffic now at 84.2 of the January 2019 level %.
In January 2023, African airlines carried 124.8% more passengers compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 82.5% in January, and load factor rose 13.9 percentage points to 73.7%, the lowest among regions.
Domestic passenger traffic in January 2023 increased by 32.7% YoY, driven by the lifting of China’s zero-COVID policy. Total domestic flows in January 2023 are 97.4% of January 2019 levels.
International passenger traffic was up 104.0% compared to January 2022, with strong growth across all markets, led by airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. International RPK reached 77.0% of January 2019 level.
Commenting on the development, IATA Director General Willie Walsh said: “Demand for air travel is off to a very healthy start in 2023. The swift lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on domestic and international travel in China bodes well for continued industry growth. A strong recovery from the pandemic throughout the year. And, importantly, we did not see many of the economic and geopolitical uncertainties of the day dampening travel demand.”
Compared with January 2022, Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 376.3% increase in passenger traffic in January, by far the largest year-on-year increase in the region, but from a very low base as much of the region remains closed to travel. Capacity rose 167.1 percent, and load factor rose 36.6 percentage points to 83.3 percent, the highest among regions.
Compared to January 2022, European airlines saw a 60.6% increase in passenger traffic. Capacity rose 30.1 percent, and load factor rose 14.2 percentage points to 75.0 percent.
Middle East airlines saw a 97.7% increase in January traffic compared to January a year ago. Capacity rose 45.9 percent, and load factor rose 20.8 percentage points to 79.2 percent.
North American airlines reported an 82.4% increase in passenger traffic in January compared to the same month in 2022. Capacity rose 37.3 percent, and load factor rose 19.7 percentage points to 79.6 percent.
Compared to the same month in 2022, Latin American airlines saw a 46.8% increase in passenger traffic. Capacity rose 34.3% in January, and load factor rose 7.1 percentage points to 82.7%, the second-highest among regions.
Australia’s domestic passenger traffic rose 107.3% in January compared with a year ago and is now at 88.8% of pre-pandemic levels.
China’s domestic RPK rose 37.2% in January, the first month-on-month annual increase since August 2022, and is now at 86.3% of January 2019 levels.
“As the traditionally cooler winters in the northern hemisphere continue strong travel demand sets the stage for a busier spring and summer. At a time when many are just beginning to enjoy their newly restored freedom to travel, see the Dutch government plan to pass unilateral and the unjust reduction of operations at Schiphol to restrict their movement is particularly disappointing,” Walsh added
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