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Airlines, service providers, agencies lose N8bn to poll shift

Minister of State Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
Minister of State Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

…Aero, Arik slash fares by 50 % in ‘Fly To Vote’ promo

Activities at major airports across the country were yet to pick up fully, yesterday, with airlines, ground handling operators, service providers and over 100 concessionaires in the aviation sector still counting their losses following Saturday’s postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

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Operators and analysts said over N8bn might have been lost to flights disruption on Saturday and skeletal flight operations on Sunday.

An airline source said all the eight commercial airlines including Air Peace, Arik, Max Air, Med-View and Overland Airways, would have lost nothing less than N3bn owing to rescheduling of flights.

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had few hours to the conduct of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, announced the postponement of the polls.

Many airlines and service providers claimed it would be impossible to open the counter on getting to hear of the postponement.

As a result, over 90 per cent of flights that would have been operated on Saturday were either cancelled or rescheduled.

Spokesman of Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa, told our correspondent that Dana was only able to operate two flights on Saturday and rescheduled 10.

Also, Air Peace spokesman, Chris Iwarah, said the airline only returned to normal operation on Sunday after Saturday’s shutdown when the airline made the “huge sacrifice of cancelling about 90 flights we scheduled for the day due to the general elections.”

He said, “At the time the flights were scheduled, we did not know the election would be fixed for February 16. While we thought it right to make the sacrifice as part of our contribution to the development and stability of our dear nation, it is unfortunate that the sacrifice eventually amounted to nothing, given the very late postponement of the election.

“This, however, will not discourage us from continuing to be part of efforts to give our nation the best. We empathise with our loyal customers whose schedules and travel plans were disrupted due to the restriction of movement. We will continue to act in their best interest and guarantee them safe and convenient flight experience.”

Also, some foreign airlines like Ethiopia, RwandAir, among others lost millions of naira as they had to cancel flights that fall on the day.

Apart from airlines, aviation agencies like the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), ground handling firms, operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport private terminal, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and catering service providers, were said to have lost over N5bn in revenues.

An aviation analyst, retired Group. Capt. John Ojikutu, said the losses by airlines and service providers would have been more than N8bn if the election had fallen on a week day as there is less traffic at weekends.

“The effect on the foreign airlines today too, is substantial if you consider the fact that 80 per cent of our earnings in aviation, come largely from the foreign airlines. The loss to aviation cannot be less than N8bn to airlines, handlers, services providers and others in the system,” he said.

Also speaking, the CEO of Skyway Aviation Handling Company PLC (SAHCOL), Mr. Basil Agboarumi, said the agency also shut its warehouses throughout Saturday even as he said all SAHCOL’s clients cancelled their flights.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s foremost commercial airline, Aero Contractors, has introduced promo fares to help Nigerians who wish to travel to vote during the elections.

The airline said the promo is its own contribution to support Nigeria conduct successful election and also to encourage the citizens to travel to cast their votes.

By the promo, the airline said it has decided to cut its fares by about 50 per cent to support Nigerians to travel without spending much, adding that this is an incentive to the citizens to carry out their civic responsibility during the elections

Aero, in a statement, said effective Monday, February 18, 2019, it would commence the sale of tickets from N16,000 for travels between the 21st and the 25th of February, 2019 on all her routes to encourage Nigerians to travel to their various destinations in order to cast their votes.

Aero Contractors flies to Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Warri, Asaba, Uyo and Sokoto

The special fare is only available online, it said.

Also, Arik Air has introduced a N16,000 ‘Fly to Vote’ promotion to encourage Nigerians travel to their respective wards to cast their votes in the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections, as well as the gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections holding across the country on February 23, 2019 and March 9, 2019 respectively.

The N16,000 promotional fare is the one-way ticket cost to any domestic destination on Arik Air’s network.

The airline in a statement by its spokesman, Ola Adebanji, said customers must present a valid Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) at the point of purchase and at check in to be eligible to fly.

“The Fly to Vote promotion is available for sale from Monday, February 18, 2019 till Tuesday, March 11, 2019 for travel between Thursday, February 21 and Tuesday, February 26, 2019 as well as between Thursday, March 7, 2019 and Tuesday, March 12, 2019”, the statement said.

Promo tickets can be purchased at any of Arik Air’s sales channels such as Airport and City Ticketing Offices or online at www.arikair.com.

Arik Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Captain Roy Ilegbodu said: “We have put this promotional fare in place to ameliorate the effect of the postponement on the traveling public and encourage voter participation.”


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