The six-week closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja has resulted into the decline in the number of air travellers by 983,705 or 28.2 per cent, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
The Abuja airport was closed by the Federal Government on March 8 in order to carry out repairs on its runway and taxiways. It was reopened on April 18 following the completion of the maintenance work.
The NBS, in its air transport report, which was released on Thursday in Abuja, put the total number of passengers who passed through Nigerian airports in the first quarter of this year at 2,505,612.
Out of these, 67.3 per cent were domestic passengers, while the rest were international passengers, entering or leaving Nigeria.
The report read in part, “In the first quarter of 2017, the total number of passengers to pass through Nigerian airports was 2,505,612. Of these, 67.3 per cent were domestic passengers, travelling within Nigeria, and the rest were international, entering or leaving Nigeria.
“Relative to the previous quarter, there were 983,705 fewer passengers, a fall of 28.2 per cent and relative to the first quarter of 2016 there were 1,165,482 fewer, or 29.4 per cent less. This was largely due to the closure of the Abuja airport from March 8. There were 311,261 fewer domestic passengers to travel through the Abuja airport relative to the previous quarter.
“However, the effect on the total number will not be limited to a reduction in passengers travelling through Abuja, as each domestic passenger to leave Abuja would have also counted as an arrival at a different domestic airport, and vice versa.
“Therefore, although all airports saw a reduction in domestic passenger numbers, this is still partly explained by the Abuja airport closure.”
The report stated that the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos recorded the most activity as it accounted for 41.4 per cent of domestic passengers, 76.5 per cent of international passengers, 90.3 per cent of cargo movement and 94.9 per cent of mail movement.
It explained that despite the closure, the Abuja airport remained the second largest domestic airport, and accounted for 499,149 passengers, or 29.6 per cent of the total.