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Foreign Airlines Feast On Nigeria, As Travellers Tell Tale of Woes

Posted by By Kenneth Ehigiator on 2004/08/26 | Views: 3751 |

Foreign Airlines Feast On Nigeria, As Travellers Tell Tale of Woes


The current upsurge in international travels by Nigerians for summer has compelled foreign airlines in the country to devise new strategies to meet with the high passengers' traffic.

The current upsurge in international travels by Nigerians for summer has compelled foreign airlines in the country to devise new strategies to meet with the high passengers' traffic.

While some of the airlines are asking the authorities for more frequencies to cope with the upsurge, some are introducing stop-overs in order to absorb some passengers yet to get seats in any aircraft, while others are introducing wide-bodied aircraft to accommodate more passengers.

Vanguard gathered that all the foreign airlines have not only been fully booked till the end of the year, especially on the viable routes as New York, London, Dubai and Johannesburg, but also that some Nigerians even go as far as to neighbouring countries to secure seats without success.

Airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa Airlines, KLM etc have put a request before the federal ministry of aviation with a view to being granted more frequencies, despite outcry that their current frequencies were costing the nation so much money in capital flight.

Officials of one of the foreign airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, met with the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) last week announcing plans to introduce stop-overs in Lagos to pick passengers going to America.

The three-man Ethiopian team, comprising Ms. Girma Shiferaw, Mr. Emeriti Tesfaye and Mr. Asmarc Askabe, told the managing director of FAAN that the airline's aircraft would depart Ethiopia for the United States, stopping over in Lagos to take passengers faced with the problem of getting seats in other airlines.

Although Nigerian travellers see the Ethiopian Airlines' option as a relief, followers of the industry believe that the option was a violation of the Fifth Freedom Right, which is not in favour of Nigeria, especially in the face of absence of a Nigerian carrier on the Lagos-Addis Ababa route.

Receiving the team in his office, the FAAN helmsman, Engr. Sani Baba, did not only welcome the Ethiopian Airlines' decision to introduce such stop- overs, but also encouraged others to do same, assuring them that facilities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport had been put in excellent condition for their benefits.

"There is availability of a big air travel market in Nigeria with an annual passengers' traffic in excess of seven million," Engr. Baba assured them.

Also taking steps to cope with increasing passengers' traffic is Emirates, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, which started flight operations in Nigeria seven months ago.

The airline with four frequencies to Lagos, has introduced a more wide-bodied aircraft, the A340-300, on the Lagos-Dubai route, which previously had a much more smaller aircraft flying it.

Emirates Country Manager, Guy Philips, said in a statement in Lagos that the bigger aircraft was introduced specifically to cope with the passengers' upsurge on the route.

With the A340-300, he said Emirates would be able to airlift 60 additional passengers and eight cubic metres of cargo per week.

Philips said in the statement: " Seven months after Emirates Airline, the Dubai-based intercontinental carrier, began operation in Nigeria, the airline has introduced a larger aircraft, an Airbus A340-300 to operate the Dubai-Lagos route on two of the four weekly flights.

"The new aircraft will enable Emirates to meet the increase in demand for passenger and cargo services during the current busy summer months. The A340-300 will fly Dubai-Lagos route on Mondays and Fridays.

"With this aircraft, Emirates now has the capability to carry 60 more passengers and an additional eight cubic metres of cargo per week."

Some Nigerian passengers caught in the web of the upsurge blamed the federal government for wasting so much time in giving the nation another carrier, having liquidated Nigeria Airways.

A London-bound passenger, who preferred anonymity, told Vanguard that he has not been able to travel three weeks after purchasing a ticket because of the upsurge, and not even the option of flying to his destination through Ghana could get him a seat. "In the days Nigeria Airways was still flying, things were not these bad," said the passenger, adding "I don't know what is stopping the government from designating some of these strong local airlines on these routes to compete with the foreign carrier, if it cannot start up another flag carrier in place of Nigeria Airways."

There have also been reports of passengers being asked to grease the palms of some foreign aircrafts officials to get seat in the planes, although the officials were quick at dismissing the allegation.

The present situation last week compelled travel agents and tour operators in the country under the platform of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agents (NANTA) and Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) to call on the federal government to urgently give the country a new flag carrier.

According to them, only a local flag carrier could stop the problem of over-booking and its accompanying dislocations.

Observers believe that government's concession to the foreign airlines' call for more frequencies would be antithetical to its fight against capital flight, which the aviation minister, Mallam Isa Yuguda, had often put at over $2 billion annually.

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.