Flight delays and cancellation witnessed by travellers in the country may continue to persist.
This is coming against the background of airlines in the country not having the capacity to meet the current financial obligations.
This is even as stakeholders have insisted that Nigeria does not have the capacity to compete with any foreign airline, stressing that the environment differs in terms of government support, among others.
Aviation World gathered that Nigeria currently has 32 Air Operator Certificates, AOCs, out of which 12 are scheduled operators.
An AOC is a certificate authorising an operator to carry out specified commercial air transport operations.
Despite this certification, airlines still struggle to manage their daily operations, as travellers continue to lament over the persistent flights delay and cancellations.
For instance, in the first quarter of 2023, a total of 2,791,591 passengers passed through the nation's domestic airports in the first quarter of 2023. While 1,391,560 passengers were inbound, 1,400,031 were outbound.
According to statistics obtained from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, of the 2,791,591 passengers, 10,128 were delayed, while 11 domestic airlines operating in the country cancelled 284 flights in the period under review.
A further breakdown of the development shows that, Air Peace, Nigeria's largest carrier topped the list with the highest number of cancelled flights with 63, followed by Max Air with 56. Arik cancelled 43 flights, Aero Contractors 40, Azman Air 20, and Green Africa 16.
The report shows that Overland cancelled 15 flights, Value Jet 15, Ibom air 9, Dana air 5, and United Airlines 2.
Meanwhile, in an interview with newsmen, the Director General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said: “The problem is that a lot of the airlines don't even have the capacity to meet current financial obligations.
“If you have three aircraft for instance and you lose one out of it, it has become a problem to meet up with your operations. Then, you start to have issues of flight delays, cancellations and all that.
“The number of aircraft you will have will depend on the kind of operations you want to do. You can imagine somebody who comes in with just two aircraft and one of the aircraft goes out of business, whereas he has sold tickets to the passengers, think of what will happen.
“For you to have six aircraft, it shows you have very strong financial backgrounds of running an airline.
“It is not only for new entrants, but the old ones too have a period by which they have to comply. If everybody has one or two aircraft, we will keep having this recurrent problem.
“We have to avoid that. People will criticize, but every country is different. We have to look at our own peculiar history and try and come with solutions, but regulations are not cast in stones.
If the situation changes the regulation would be reviewed accordingly. Whenever it is necessary, we don't have to wait for five years before we make amendments.
“What again we are trying to do is to institutionalize NCAA, we want to make NCAA a proper institution so that the standard across the board is maintained. It is still an ongoing process.”
Also, the Managing Director, Afri-Air International Limited, Capt. Shehu Iyal, in an interview said: “The infrastructure in some of the airports are not adequate. The check-in counters may not be adequate.
So, sometimes those issues create delays. And again; other things that cause delays are the non-availability of aviation fuel and bad weather. But, for a passenger, all he knows is that the airline is responsible for the delays.
“So, normally, there are three variables that control flight operation; weather, technical issues and the availability of aviation fuel.
Indeed, the most important factor in any flight, in any operation is the availability of aviation fuel as at when due or when needed. These are the things that the ordinary passenger doesn't know.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Med-View Airlines, Muneer Bankole, has also insisted that capacity remains a major threat to the survival of airlines in the country.
Speaking at the sideline of the just concluded League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, conference in Lagos, Bankole said: “There is no way we can compete with any foreign airline.
“The environment we are in is not the same environment as the foreign they are in. The environment we are in here determines for you and I anywhere you want to go to lay it on the table.