Domestic airlines and aviation agencies have reportedly lost over N900 million as a result of the fall out of the EndSARS protests across the country.
This was even as the aviation industry which was the worst hit from the COVID-19 pandemic is still struggling from the negative impact of the over five months of lockdown.
Thousands of youths across the country joined the protest against the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit which rights groups had, for years, accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders. As at Tuesday, October 20, hoodlums had hijacked the protests which were largely peaceful, leading to mayhem which hadspread to many parts of Lagos and across Nigeria, with looting of shops and arson of banks and public buildings.
The crises further escalated after witnesses and rights groups said soldiers opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protesters defying a curfew at Lekki toll gate, where Amnesty International alleged that at least 12 protesters were killed. This led to the imposition of a dusk to dawn curfew in Lagos, forcing many airlines to cancel their flights, thus losing millions in revenue.
The management of Arik Air was the first to announce cancellation of flights, urging passengers to reschedule at no cost, while Africa World Airlines, an international airline, also released a statement asking passengers not to proceed to the airport as flights into Lagos have been cancelled. Azman Air, Aero Contractors, Air Peace and Dana Air also followed suit.
A senior management source at Arik Air revealed to Daily Sun that the airline operates an average of 28 flights and a minimum of 2000 passengers on a daily basis. The minimum cost of economy flights is about N25, 000, bringing the total daily revenue to a minimum of N50 million. The implication of this is that for the four days that the airline cancelled all its flights, it lost about N200 million.
At Ibom Air, a reliable source within the airline told Daily Sun that all their flights originates or terminates in Lagos. On how many flights that it operates Daily, the source said Ibom Air operates three flights from Abuja, two from Uyo, two from Calabar and one from Enugu Daily, which brings the total number of flights and their return leg to 16 daily and the average number of passengers on this route is at least 700 daily. At an average cost of N25,000 for economy ticket, the airline may have lost about N70 million revenue for the four days it cancelled its flights.
For Dana Air, another source within the airline said it operates 27 flights and airlifts between 2000 to 2500 passengers daily. At the average cost of N25,000 for economy tickets, the airline makes a minimum revenue of N62 million and for the period in which most flights were cancelled, it lost about N250 million.
At Air Peace, the chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Allen Onyema, had in July this year during a stakeholders webinar, said that going forward, the airline would be reducing its flights from 100 to 42 daily as a result of the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on the entire industry until the situation improves.
The airline airlifts over 3,000 passengers daily and at the average cost of N25,000 per economy ticket, it generates a minimum of N75 million on a daily basis and for the period it cancelled all its flights, it lost over N300 million. At the time of filing this report, efforts to get passenger data from Azman Air, Aero Contractors and Max Air proved abortive.