A total of 6,420,820 passengers travelled through domestic and international airports in Nigeria between January and June this year, representing 50.5 per cent innationalLagoscrease over 4,267, 409 recorded same period in 2020.
Passengers Traffic Statistics Report made available by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) indicates that the figure comprised of 5,513,098 domestic passengers and 907,722 international travellers.
According to the report, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos processed the highest number of international travellers with 670,938 passengers, followed by Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja with 225,985 in the first half of 2021.
NAIA Abuja, however, topped the chart for domestic air travellers with 1,974,249 passengers, closely followed by Lagos airport with 1,786,236. Others are Port Harcourt 377,679 passengers; Enugu 231,669; Kano 225,870.
The report indicates that Lagos and Abuja airports alone accounted for 3,760,485 out of a total of 5,513,098 or 68.2 per cent of all domestic arrivals and departures, and 896,923 out of a total of 907,722 or 98.8 per cent of all international passengers.
Malam Aminu Kano Inter innational Airport came a distant third with only 10,119 international passengers in the first half of the year.
On cargo, the five major international airports in Lagos, Enugu, Abuja Kano and Port Harcourt handled a total of 126.4 million kilogrammes of cargo between January and June this year, about 106 per cent increase over the 61.2 million recorded same period in 2020.
Lagos alone accounted for the lion share of 113.9 million kilogrammes or over 90 per cent of the total cargo throughput of the five international airports.
Lagos also accounted for 18.8 million kilogrammes out of 18.9 million kilogrammes or 98.9 per cent of all mails handled at the five international airports.
It would be recalled that four months ago, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed that part of government’s aviation roadmap was the upgrading of the airports in the country and make them viable.
He also said through the concessioning of the airports, due to paucity of government funds to undertake the repairs itself, the private handlers of the terminals and facilities would turn the derelict state of the airports to what Nigerians will be proud of.
Sirika said: “The airport upgrade is part of the Aviation master plan that seeks to revamp the aviation sector through the active participation of the private sector and make it self-sustaining.
“Some of the core objectives of the aviation masterplan seeks to establish a national carrier; have a ready maintenance, repair and overhaul center; establish an aviation leasing company; establish five airport free zones; and the development of an agro-allied cargo terminal.”
The minister, who made the Federal Government plans known at a virtual stakeholders meeting, asserted that the four major airports in Nigeria located in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano were not designed as international facilities.
He added that the airports were not designed as international hubs but operate separate international and domestic terminals.
“The airports in Nigeria are currently operating in a suboptimal environment as there is relatively low asset utilisation due to the limited opening hours of other smaller Nigerian airports; lack of terminal capacity as the airports fall short of gates, stands and check-in desks.
”An overstretched facility is the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos terminal, built in 1979 for 200,000 passengers, but currently processes nearly eight million flyers,” he said.