The domestic wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja and Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos recorded a total of 3.56 million domestic air passenger travels in the first half of 2021, jointly accounting for 67.7% of the total number of domestic passengers recorded in the period. This is contained in the recently released air transportation report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the report, a total of 5.28 million domestic passengers travelled by air between January and June 2021, representing a 29% increase compared to 4.1 million recorded in the previous period, while it increased by 6% compared to 4.97 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.
This indicates a rebound in air travelling activities in the country from the restrictions placed on movement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, it is yet to hit pre-pandemic levels of 7.13 million and 6.36 million in H2 2019 and H1 2019 respectively.
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The breakdown shows that arrival during the review period stood at 2.65 million passengers. This is 29.3% higher than 2.05 million recorded in H2 2020, but lower than 2.82 million recorded in H1 2020.
Similarly, departures during the period for domestic passengers stood at 2.63 million, a 28.1% increase compared to 2.05 million recorded in H2 2020.
A further breakdown shows that 1.27 million domestic passenger arrivals were recorded in Q1 2021 compared to 1.38 million in the second quarter. Also, 1.25 million domestic passenger departures were recorded in Q1 2021, while 1.38 million was recorded in Q2 2021.
Abuja airport recorded the highest amongst the 17 airports with the data for the period. A total of 1.94 million domestic passengers travelled through the Abuja airport, accounting for 36.9% of the total passengers.
Lagos State followed with a total of 1.63 million domestic passengers, accounting for 30.8% of the recorded domestic travels in H1 2021.
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The air transport sector which is valued at N50.78 billion according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, contributing a meagre 0.08% to the total GDP, was hugely affected by the covid-19 induced movement restrictions.
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Why this matters
The increased activity in the aviation sector is a welcome development compared to the downturn recorded in the better part of 2020. The sector contracted by 57.38%, 38.86%, 51.69%, and 11.78% in Q2, Q3, Q4 2020, and Q1 2021 respectively before printing 4.98% growth in Q2 2021. The sector will hope to boost its activities, hopefully with the ramping up of vaccination across the country.
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