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Airlines, service providers, agencies lose over N8bn to poll shift

Arik Airline

Skeletal services continued yesterday at most of the country’s airports as airlines, ground handling operators, service providers and over 100 concessionaires in the aviation sector count their losses following Saturday’s postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Operators and analysts say over N8bn may have been lost to flights disruption on Saturday.

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

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.

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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 election”.

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.”

Also, some foreign airlines like Ethiopia, RwandAir, among others lost millions of naira as they had to cancel flights that fell during 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, Grp. Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) said the losses by airline and service providers would have been more than N8bn if the election had fallen on a week day as there was 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.”

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.

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