About 39 per cent of international flights (in and outbound) operated in Nigeria between January and March were delayed, an official report has revealed.
According to the report titled: “Executive Summary on International and Domestic Flight Operations,” of the 3,073 international flights operated within the aforementioned period, 1,193 flight schedules across 25 airlines were delayed.
The report was published by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Wednesday.
The new development gives credence to the ripple effect of aviation workers’ industrial actions and funds repatriation challenges in the aviation sector.
In January, aggrieved workers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) declared a warning strike over poor pay. Their action disrupted flight operations at both the local and international wings of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos during that period.
The development also grounded several arrival and departure flight schedules, with passengers fuming that there was no prior communication intimating them of the disruption.
This prompted Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, to say that the government would no longer tolerate strikes and riots around all airports in the country because it was against the law of the land.
Meanwhile, in March, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the top global trade association of airlines, appealed to the Nigerian government to allow international airlines to repatriate their funds trapped in the country.
The IATA says airlines’ trapped funds in Nigeria rose to $743.7 million in January from the $662 million recorded last December.
In its report, the NCAA noted that the 25 international airlines which operated within the reviewed period had 24 flights cancelled, with 9,087 baggage delayed/ missing.
Of this figure, the report said 7,942 baggage were found.
The 30-page report revealed 870,776 passengers (375,700 inbound and 495,076 outbound ) passed through the nation’s international airport wing between January and March.
A review of cancelled flights showed that out of 1,114 international flights operated in January, seven were called off. In February, 13 out of 887 scheduled flights were cancelled—the highest recorded in the period under review, while only four of 1,072 operated flights in March were cancelled.
The report showed that Lufthansa recorded the highest number of cancelled flights, with six of its 147 operated flights terminated in the first quarter of this year. Qatar Air followed with four, while Asky and Rwanda Airlines had three cancelled flights each, among others.
During the period under review, the NCAA noted that it received 27 complaints from international operations and nine cases were resolved.
“However, most of the cases were resolved after follow-up and additional backlog from the previous months,” the report said.
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