Nigeria loses 0.8% arrivals market as airlines cut seats

Posted: August 22, 2017 in general
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Information Technology and destination marketing solution provider, ForwardKeys, has said that during the coming five months, August – December 2017, there will be 16 per cent fewer airline seats on domestic routes and 9 per cent fewer on international routes to and from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

According to the London-based firm, in its report released, Tuesday, this figure adds to the cut by Nigerian carrier, alone, Arik Air of up to 53 per cent of its seats for the rest of the year.

The report, however, noted that most of the other airports in Africa’s top 10 are seeing a healthy growth in international arrivals capacity rather than domestic, with Nairobi in Kenya with a 22 per cent boost in domestic capacity, being the only exception.

“One of the major reasons for falling arrivals by air to Nigeria is the fact that many airlines could not repatriate funds after the currency crisis in 2016. As a result, Iberia and United Airlines have ceased operations to Nigeria, whilst Emirates and the other foreign carriers have scaled back services.

“The Nigerian airlines have suffered too and so this void has been filled by the ever-opportunistic Ethiopian Airlines, who began serving their fifth Nigerian destination, Kaduna on 1st August 2017 and are now the largest carrier in the Nigerian market,” said Jon Howell, Managing Director of AviaDev, an airline route development conference.

The report on travel to Africa, which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day, shows double digit growth in flight arrivals for the first half of this year and little indication that the pace of growth will slow down soon.

The report also reveals that in the first seven months of the year, 1st Jan – 31st July 2017, total international flight arrivals grew by 14.0 per cent over the same period in 2016. Most significantly, growth was stronger for travel to and from the continent than within the continent. Arrivals from Europe, which make up 46 per cent of the market, were up 13.2 per cent. From the Americas, arrivals were up 17.6 per cent; from the Middle East, they were up 14.0 per cent and from Asia Pacific, they were up 18.4 per cent.  By comparison, intra-African air travel, according to the report, which makes up 26 per cent of the market, was up 12.6 per cent.

“Looking at Africa’s top ten destination countries, there have been stand-out performances from Tunisia and Egypt, which are recovering from notorious terrorist attacks two years ago, up 33.5 per cent and 24.8 per cent respectively. In addition, Morocco and Tunisia received a huge boost in arrivals from China, up 450 per cent and 250 per cent respectively, after they relaxed visa restrictions. The one disappointment is Nigeria, which has seen a 0.8 per cent drop, in the wake of recession in 2016, caused by a collapse in the oil price to a 13-year low,” the report said.

Ahead of the end of the calendar year, bookings for flights to Africa are currently 16.8 per cent ahead of where they were on July 31st, 2016. Bookings from Europe are currently 17.5 per cent ahead, from the Americas 26.6 per cent ahead, from Asia Pacific 11.5 per cent ahead, from the Middle East 8.2 per cent ahead and bookings for intra-African air travel are 11.0 per cent ahead.

A specific look at East Africa shows very similar trends in year to date performance and outlook to the end of the year. However, it has stronger forward bookings from Europe, 22.9 per cent ahead and less strong forward bookings from elsewhere; the Americas are 15.5 per cent ahead and intra-African air travel 7.6 per cent ahead. However, bookings from the Middle East and Asia Pacific are 6.0 per cent and 3.8 per cent behind respectively.

On an individual airport level, the most significant capacity increase in East Africa is at Kigali, with new routes to Brussels, London and Mumbai. Other notable new capacity includes Kilimanjaro to Dubai and Nairobi to Muscat and to Yemen.

“The growth in air travel to Africa is impressive. However, it is notable that consumer demand and airline investment is greater in travel to African countries from outside the continent than it is between African countries,” said Olivier Jager, CEO, ForwardKeys.


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