By Kayode Ogunwale & Goddey Odin
The total number of air passengers who traveled to or from Nigerian airports in Q4 2017 hit 3,659,999, representing a growth of 4.89 percent year-on-year despite a decline of 0.56 percent quarter-on-quarter, according to data released Wednesday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The data indicated that the fourth quarter of 2017 saw steady growth in the number of both domestic and international passengers traveling to or from Nigerian airports, by 6.46 percent and 1.01 percent respectively.
The NBS noted that for the first time in 2017, more arrivals were recorded than departures for both domestic and international travelers in the fourth quarter.
It said arrivals and departures in all Nigerian airports in the reviewing quarter were 1,864,906 and 1,308,959 with Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Kano airports serving over 92 percent of total passengers in the review period.
Of the total air passengers in Q4 2017, 71.60 percent or 2,538,190 were domestic travelers, while 28.40 percent or 1,012,182 were international travelers who entered or left Nigeria.
The NBS indicated that the percentage of international passengers among total air passengers increased by more than 3 percent in December.
According to the NBS data, the annual total number of passengers who traveled through Nigerian airports peaked at 13,394,945, of which 6,693,687 were at arrivals and 6,701,258 at departures.
The annual figures for 2017, however, fell by 8.03 percent from a total of 14,564,720 recorded in 2016, which according to NBS was mainly due to the six-week closure of Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport from March 8th.
“Although the number of total air passengers at Nigerian airports dropped in the first quarter steeply due to the closure of Abuja airport in March 2017, the figure bounced back in the second quarter and kept growing since then after Abuja airport was reopened on April 18th, 2017.
“However, the strong performance in the following three quarters could not make up for the loss of passengers in the first quarter at Abuja airport, ” the bureau stated.
The numbers of both domestic and international passengers who passed through Nigerian airports, the NBS said, kept increasing from the first quarter to the third quarter in 2017, which the two figures stood at their highest at 2,545,859 and 1,134,768 in Q3.
The annual total numbers of domestic and international air passengers declined by 8.40 percent and 7.13percent respectively compared with the previous year.
Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Kano airports remained the busiest airports through the year of 2017.
Specifically, passengers who traveled through Abuja airport largely increased from Q2 (577,386 domestic and 692,207 international) to Q3 (841,401 domestic and 231,414 international) due to the reopening of Abuja airport.
Kaduna airport recorded higher than usual numbers of domestic traffic in the first two quarters of 2017 (124,996 in Q1 and 129,034 in Q2) since a large proportion of air traffic through Abuja was redirected to Kaduna after Abuja airport’s closure in March 2017.
The annual total number of aircraft arrived at or departed from Nigerian airports in 2017 stood at 214,258which grew marginally by 0.61 percent from the same quarter in 2016.
The NBS report stated that cargo movement kept declining since the year of 2014 and that the annual volume of cargo movement in 2017 -bottomed at 161,800,520 KG (a decline by 17.07% from the annual figure in 2016).
Abuja international airport recorded the highest year-on-year decline in cargo movement traffic among the five airports (59.21%), followed by declines at Enugu (44.35%), and Lagos (18.19%).
Cargo movement at Kano international airport and Port Harcourt international airport in 2017 increased by 20.28 percent and 17.56 percent respectively.
In 2017, the volume of total mail movement in Abuja and Lagos airports in 2017 grew significantly (by 500%) compared with 2016.
The bureau also said a total of 57,484 aircraft arrived at or departed from Nigerian airports in Q4 2017, among which 47,223 were domestic aircraft and 10,261 were international aircraft.
Meanwhile, a total of 57,484 aircraft arrived at or departed from Nigerian airports in Q4 2017, among which 47,223 were domestic aircraft and 10,261 were international aircraft.