Article Summary

  • Seven Nigerian domestic airlines transported a total of 42,177,058kg of cargo within Nigeria from 2017 to 2021.
  • Cargo volume experienced a decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but rebounded in 2021 with a 25.2% increase compared to the previous year.
  • Azman Air had the highest cargo airlift, totaling 11,934,807kg over the five-year period, followed by Aero Contractors and Arik Air.

Seven Nigerian domestic airlines airlifted 42,177,058 kilogrammes of cargo across the country in five years, a report exclusively obtained from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has revealed.

The statistics, which covered 2017 to 2021, mentioned the seven domestic carriers as Aero Contractors, Arik Air, Azman Airlines, Dana Air, Max Air Airlines, United Nigeria Airlines, and the now-defunct First Nation Airways.

A breakdown of the stats

According to the statistics, the seven airlines airlifted a total of 7,710.663kg of cargo in 2017 and 8,618.387kg in 2018.

The total freight in 2018 indicated an 11.7 per cent increase when compared to the previous year.

For 2019, the seven carriers airlifted a total of 9,848.086, showing an increase of 14.3 per cent when compared to 2019.

A slowdown in 2020 a rebound in 2021

However, the cargo volume suffered a huge setback in 2020 with just 7,104.306kg of cargo among the carriers, indicating a decline of 27.8 per cent when compared to the 2019 figure.

The reason for the decline is the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which crippled the world’s economies in 2020 and extended to 2021.

During this period, Nigeria was locked down for three months. The lockdown specifically affected the aviation industry. 

However, the cargo airlift staged a rebound in 2021 with 8,895.616kg movement by the domestic operators, showing a 25.2 per cent increase when compared to 2020.

Airlines and the volume they airlifted

The statistics showed that Azman Air had the highest number of cargo airlifts within the country with 11,934,807kg in the five years.

  • Further breakdown of the statistics showed that Aero Contractors airlifted 441,250kg in 2017, 873, 596kg in 2018; 1,404,144kg in 2019; 1,421,970kg in 2020 and 1,452,361kg in 2021.
  • In all, Aero Contractors airlifted about 5,593,321kg of cargo within the period.
  • For Arik Air, it had 1,500,000kg (2017), 1,725,000kg (2018), 1,938,750kg (2019), 1,587,000kg (2020) and 1,904,400kg (2021).
  • Arik Air, which is under the receivership of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) since 2017, airlifted a total of 8,655,150kg of cargo in the last five years.
  • Besides, Azman Air had 2,500,000kg of cargo in 2017, 2,850,000kg (2018), 3,150,000 (2019), 1775,000kg (2020) and 1,659,807kg in 2021, totalling 11,934,807kg cargo movement in five years.

For Dana Air, the airline airlifted 2,179,609kg of cargo in 2017, 2,069,251kg (2018), 2,304,392kg (2019), 1,359,766kg (2020) and 2,767,403kg in 2021.

Dana Air airlifted a total of 10,680,421kg within the year under review.

Out of the five years review, First Nation Airways, which ceased operations in 2018, only had two years of the cargo movement in the statistics.

The airline, which used Airbus 319 aircraft in its operational years, had 1,089,804kg carriage in 2017 and 1,100,504kg in 2018, totalling just 2,190,308kg within the period.

Besides, Max Air, which commenced operations about eight years ago, only delved into the cargo business in 2019, according to the statistics obtained from FAAN.

The statistics stated that Max Air had 1,005,800kg of cargo airlift in 2019, 980,570kg in 2020 and 1,101,520kg in 2021, totalling 3,087,890kg within the period under review.

What you should know

Also, United Nigeria Airways which celebrated its second anniversary in March this year, had only 10,125kg of cargo in 2021.

Just recently, Mr Ikechi Uko, the Coordinator, AviaCargo, Road Map Committee, said that Nigeria loses about $1 billion annually to non-certification of its agric produce for export despite being the largest producer of many agro-products globally,

Uko lamented that 80 per cent of containers arriving in Nigeria return empty, while out of every 10 containers that come into the country laden with imports, only about one of three leaves the country with exports.

He quoted the 2021 statistics by the World Exports, which put Nigeria as the fifth biggest African exporting nation alongside South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, accounting for over 55.7 per cent of the continent’s overall export by value.

He also stated that Airports Council International (ACI) same year put a value on the cargo exports in tons with the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, accounting for 204, 649 tons behind the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya with the highest exports at 363,204 tons, while Cairo International Airport, Egypt had 333, 536 tons and Oliver Reginald International Airport South Africa with 304, 018 and Addis Ababa Bole International Airport with 226, 417.

According to Uko, Nigeria has ranked quite high in the world in agricultural commodities production, thriving in products like yam, ginger, cocoa beans, pineapple, onions, chilli peppers, and groundnuts among others.

But, he identified obstacles, including non-compliance of farmers to internationally and domestically accepted standards, lack of certification, inability to trace, lack of access to international markets; lack of knowledge on global requirements as well as governments’ bureaucracy.

Others are the high cost of preservation and packaging to a global standard, poor logistics, insecurity, weakness of supervision, poor airport infrastructure, lack of government support, mindset/attitudes, lack of skilled manpower, taxes and charges and funding as some of the challenges bedevilling industry sustainability.