Why two airlines dominate domestic market – Nigerians

More than half of Nigerian air passengers chose Ibom Air and Air Peace as their choice airlines, while 16.24 per cent have no preferred airline, FUNMI FABUNMI writes

A Phillips Consulting Limited survey puts Air Peace and Ibom Air as the most preferred airlines in Nigeria.

According to the survey, Air Peace, with 31.67 per cent and Ibom Air with 19.58 per cent, jointly control half of the domestic passengers’ market share, Arik ranks as the third most preferred airline by passengers.

However, 16.24 per cent of the passengers do not prefer any airline.

Almost half of the respondents, 47 per cent, identified Air Peace, Arik Air, and Aero Contractors as their least desired airlines. 41 per cent selected Dana, Azman, Overland, United Nigeria, Max Air, Ibom Air, and Green Africa as their least preferred airlines.

These results, according to PCL, contradict the results of Air Peace and Ibom Air being the most preferred airlines.

According to the majority of respondents, Air Peace was their least preferred airline because of the carrier’s poor communication and high pricing, and it was rated as the most expensive domestic airline to travel.

The poor communication issue is exemplified in the clash between the Emir of Kano and Air Peace in February 2022.

As for Dana, 36 per cent of respondents who chose Dana as their least preferred airline were wary of the airline’s poor communication of information and low safety standards, citing the damning NCAA report on the airline.

The airline is expected to resume flight operations on November 9, 2022, after its comprehensive audit by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, suspended Dana’s Air Transport Licence and Air Operator Certificate indefinitely.

The NCAA’s statement partly read, “The decision is the outcome of a financial and economic health audit carried out on the Airline by the authority, and the findings of an investigation conducted on the airline’s flight operations recently, which revealed that Dana Air is no longer in a position to meet its financial obligations and to conduct safe flight operations.

 “The NCAA acknowledges the negative effect this pre-emptive decision will have on the airline’s passengers and the travelling public and seeks their understanding, as the safety of flight operations takes priority over all other considerations.”

Recall that the Accountable Manager/Chief Operating Officer of Dana Air, Ememobong Ettete, while announcing the Airline’s return to operations said, “The audit for us was a re-engineering and restructuring process and have successfully concluded the audit and an extensive one at that for the second time, and with a new management team fully in charge, we are now well positioned despite the current challenges and hostile economic environment, and concentrating fully on strengthening our operations efficiently for sustainable growth while still offering safe, reliable and exciting flying experience to our loyal guests.

“As a proudly Nigerian brand with Nigerians at the helm of affairs and with over 14 years of service to the Nigerian flying public, we remain eternally grateful to our customers, travel partners, clients and vendors for keeping faith with us while the audit lasted and we would never take your loyalty and support for granted as it means a lot to us.”

He lauded the NCAA for the painstaking Audit process and the professionalism exhibited by the team of inspectors and also the management personnel who are determined to see that the organisation does the proper thing.

Ettete further mentioned, “This audit has repositioned us as a vibrant and resilient brand and its turned out really good for us and for the industry at large. This is also highly recommended for all domestic airlines for the good of the industry.

“For customers with unused tickets, and as a little token for our short absence from the market, we have extended their validity for one year, a transfer option is also available to them and we shall be offering competitive fares as always, and gifting free tickets onboard our flights for the next 30 days from November 9.”

Air Peace, on the other hand, has stopped flight services to Johannesburg, South Africa. The airline’s Johannesburg operations were suspended for two weeks before they were resumed on October 8, 2022.

The carrier in a statement said the development was regretted but has become inevitable due to the delayed issuance of South African visas to travellers, worsening forex crunch, and the increasing cost of aviation fuel as well as its scarcity.

Having informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting South African visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads on its flights to and from Johannesburg, the carrier believed that the situation would have improved within the next 60 days.

Aero, Max Air, Arik, and Ibom Air also received criticism for poor communication, which made them part of the least preferred airlines.

United Nigeria Airline and Azman were picked by respondents as the least preferred airlines for their poor record of timeliness and poor communication.

The survey shows that more than half, 56 per cent, of respondents, chose the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos as their most frequent point of departure.

 The Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport was chosen by more than a quarter, 30 per cent, of respondents, whereas just four per cent of respondents use the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.

Furthermore, just 10 per cent of respondents utilize the eastern region-based airports, which are Calabar, Enugu, and Port-Harcourt airports.

On a positive note, over half of the passengers were satisfied with the availability of baggage trolleys and the ease of crowd control at all the airports.

However, most passengers experienced difficulties with ground transportation, shuttle services, and parking facilities at various airports in Nigeria.

Also, travellers with physical disabilities or health conditions were considerably more likely to have difficulties in navigating airports and flying.

The Managing Director of Phillips Consulting Limited, Rob Taiwo, said the report was divided into three parts, namely the global aviation industry overview and outlook, the Nigerian aviation industry, and the Nigerian customer satisfaction survey.

For the global aviation industry overview and outlook, the MD PCL admitted that the global aviation industry was yet to fully rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic due to its more prolonged-than-expected impact.

Taiwo added that the recovery observed in early 2021 was interrupted by the Omicron virus, which led to new travel restrictions, preventing the sector from scaling up.

“In 2023, while we anticipate the global aviation industry to sustain the growth trajectory, the ongoing Russian-Ukraine crisis will potentially undermine full recovery. The International Air Transport Association forecast that by 2040, global passenger traffic will still be 6 per cent below the pre-pandemic forecast, underscoring the long-lasting impact of the pandemic crisis,” he said.

On the Nigerian aviation industry, Taiwo said following the global trend, the COVID-19 pandemic also negatively impacted the country’s aviation sector, stressing that the local aviation sector recorded negative growth of 36.98 per cent in 2020 from a Gross Domestic Product growth of 13.2 per cent in 2019 on the back of the air travel restriction in March 2020.

He, however, noted that the aviation sector grew by 19.7 per cent, returning to its pre-pandemic growth level upon fully reversing the travel restriction in 2021.

He further stated that according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), about 13 million passengers travelled through Nigerian airports in 2021, representing a growth rate of 43.41 per cent from the nine million recorded in 2020.

The PCL boss stated that consistent with global trends, growth is undermined by subsisting pressure points, adding that in this segment, they discussed Nigeria’s aviation industry overview, trends shaping the industry, the regulatory framework, analysis of the competitive landscape, SWOT analysis and the outlook of the industry.

The PCL aviation customer satisfaction survey is a country-wide survey designed to explore the state of the industry from the passengers’ lens to identify progress and gaps to support strategic transformation.

This year’s survey was carried out between February and July 2022 to understand better domestic air travellers’ perceptions, expectations, and experiences of both airline services and airport experience.

A total of 7, 815 responses were obtained by the firm.

Article first published on the Punch Website

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