The airline said the number of its regular Dubai travellers from Lagos had reduced due to the United Arab Emirates’ ban on Nigerian flights.
The UAE had last month extended the suspension of flights from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) from February 28 to March 10.
The General Manager for Lagos, Mr Muharram Rahman, at a media briefing on Wednesday, said before the ban, the airline recorded 150 passengers on the wide-body aircraft and an average of 80 passengers on the narrow-body aircraft.
He said, “We were affected by UAE because on an average, we have 150 passengers daily to Dubai and on our wide-body aircraft, while we average around 70-80 passengers daily to Dubai on the narrow aircraft. We were affected but we looked for alternative markets to substitute for Dubai which is Muscat.
“A lot of Nigerians are travelling to Muscat, we have about 40-50 passengers travelling to Muscat daily. When we felt that we would lose Dubai markets, we leveraged our connections to Muscat. We just make our flights to arrive Cairo 45 minutes earlier so we can connect to Muscat.”
The airline GM announced plans to increase the number of flights from Lagos to 10, while also introducing daily flights from Abuja on June 1, 2021.
He explained that the airline was looking to connect more passengers to Europe this year.
He said, “We plan that on June 1st, we will operate 10 flights per week from Lagos. From next month, we will increase our five weekly flights in Abuja to six, and from the 1st of June it will be daily.”
The General Manager who maintained that the airline did not reduce its flight frequency revealed that the load factor after the pandemic that ravaged the aviation industry had dropped from 95 per cent to an average of 70 per cent.
He said, “The load factor is not how it used to be. Before COVID-19, the load factor was 95 per cent, but the load factor now averages for 55 per cent to 70 per cent. This is the average we are carrying now.”