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Persisting Flight Disruptions: Nigerian Travelers Grapple with Delays and Cancellations Amid Industry Struggles

Continued flight delays and cancellations remain a significant concern for travelers within the country, largely stemming from the financial constraints faced by domestic airlines. This challenge is further compounded by Nigeria’s inability to compete adequately with foreign carriers, primarily due to disparities in government support and other factors.

At present, Nigeria holds a total of 32 Air Operator Certificates (AOCs), out of which only 12 are designated as scheduled operators. Despite possessing these certifications, domestic airlines grapple with the effective management of their day-to-day operations, leading to ongoing grievances from passengers regarding persistent disruptions to their travel plans.

In the initial quarter of 2023, a substantial 2,791,591 passengers traversed the nation’s domestic airports. Among these passengers, 10,128 individuals encountered delays, while a total of 284 flights were canceled by 11 domestic airlines during the same period. Notably, Air Peace, the country’s largest carrier, recorded the highest number of canceled flights at 63, followed by Max Air with 56 cancellations, and Arik with 43.

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According to Capt. Musa Nuhu, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the core issue revolves around the limited financial capacities of many airlines, particularly when unforeseen circumstances ground aircraft. This predicament subsequently triggers flight delays and cancellations. Capt. Nuhu stressed the imperative of establishing stronger financial foundations for airlines to ensure smoother operations.

Capt. Shehu Iyal, Managing Director of Afri-Air International Limited, shed light on diverse factors contributing to flight delays, including suboptimal airport infrastructure, fuel availability challenges, and adverse weather conditions. He emphasized that passengers often attribute delays solely to airlines, remaining unaware of the multifaceted variables that impact flight operations.

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Muneer Bankole, CEO of Med-View Airlines, concurred with the sentiment that domestic carriers are ill-equipped to effectively compete with foreign counterparts, primarily due to the distinct challenges posed by Nigeria’s aviation landscape.

Concerted efforts are underway to address these challenges, encompassing initiatives to bolster airlines’ financial capabilities, enhance airport infrastructure, and ensure timely access to aviation fuel. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is committed to fostering standardized practices across the industry, aimed at elevating overall performance and enhancing passenger satisfaction.

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