The total number of passengers that passed through Nigeria’s airports in 2022, increased to 16, 172, 433, higher than the 15 million passenger movement in 2021, according to statistics released by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Also, the determination of many Nigerians to leave the country in the now well-known japa syndrome boosted the number of outbound international passengers in 2022 to 1, 855,467, recording over 700, 000 increase compared to 2021, which was 1,109,525.
In the same period, inbound international passenger traffic was 1, 648, 225, a significant increase when compared to 1,109,621 in 2021.
During the period, which was between January to December 2022, domestic airlines airlifted a total of 12, 668, 741 made up of 6, 309, 664 inbound and 6,359, 077 outbound passenger movement respectively and when combined with international passenger traffic, the country recorded 16,172, 433 passenger movement in the period under focus.
The document obtained from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, showed that in 2022, 26 airlines carried out a total of 13,003 international operations to and from the Nigeria while 11 airlines operated 80, 328 domestic flights.
The data also revealed that there were 4,628 delays and 82 cancelled flights on the international operations while the number of domestic operations was 47,144 with international operations recording 31 air returns, 48,234 baggage delays against domestic operations 91 air returns and 449 delayed baggage.
The data also disclosed flight cancellations and delays both for international and domestic flight operations in the period of January to December 2022,
The highest number of delays on the domestic scene, according to flight operated and delayed as well as passenger traffic was Overland Airways.
The airline operated 2926 flight with 2451 delays, accounting for 84 per cent delays and 11 cancellations in its operations followed by Azman Air, which had a 69 per cent delay percentage as it operated 3,713 and had 2,555 delays with 82 flight cancellations.
Arik Air came next on the list with 9,750 flights and 6,440 delays accounting for 66 per cent of delays in its operations with 110 cancellations.
The United Nigeria, which had 42 cancellations operated 6,097 times and had 4,000 delays also with a 66 per cent delay rate.
Dana Air’s operations had 2,906 delays from 4,440 flights at 65 per cent, with 24 flights cancelled while Air Peace with 24,449 flights delayed 14,908 also averaging 61 per cent and 129 cancellations.
Aero Contractors, which operated 3,106 times, had 1,889 delays and 99 cancellations; its delay percentage was also 61 per cent, while Green Africa operated 4,648 flights with 2111 delays and 79 cancellations with a delay percentage of 45 per cent.
For international operations, Cronos had the least operation figure of 53 flights but led the pack 41 delays at 77 per cent delay rate, while it was followed by Turkish Airlines, which operated 654 flights into Nigeria in 2022, with 420 delays at 64 per cent.
Also, Kenyan Airways with 60 per cent delays had 344 flights to Nigeria with 205 of the delayed. Air Cote D’ Voire operated 609 times into Nigeria with 314 delays at 52 per cent, while EgyptAir equally followed with 706 flights into Nigeria with 350 delays, which was a 50 per cent delay rate.
According to the NCAA, in 2021, the number of international flight departures through the Nigerian airports increased by 54.7 per cent to 1,109,525 from 717,261 in 2020.
Travel expert and the organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ambassador Ikechi Uko told THISDAY factors that could be responsible to the increase in the international passenger movement.
He said one of such factors was pent up travel, saying since the lockdown in 2020, many people have stayed back from travel due to hiccups created by COVID-19 airport protocols, which was significantly eased in many countries in 2022 and that prompted many people to travel.
Uko also alluded to the japa syndrom, which is the drive by many Nigerians to leave the country due to economic crunch and hardship, seeking for better economic well-being in other countries.
On the domestic market, the organiser of Akwaaba Africa Travel Market said insecurity forced many to choose air travel as the only option and economic activates pushed more people to the airports and the third factor was political campaigns in preparation for the 2023 elections.