Uche Usim, Abuja
Leveraging on the worsening insecurity in the country, a local airline, Misha Travels, has launched an Abuja-Kaduna air shuttle, the shortest distance in scheduled operations in the country.
Aviation industry analysts say the airline is likely to succeed because the Abuja-Kaduna route remains lucrative for any form of transportation and that, since it has become notorious for armed banditry, kidnapping and terrorist attacks, high-earn travellers are likely to dump the road and rail service for flights.
The fear of travellers has been heightened by reports of attempts by criminals to attack the trains operating the Abuja-Kaduna service.
There have also been reports of attacks on travellers going to the station to board the train in Kaduna.
Although there has been no successful attack on the trains, travellers fear that it is only a matter of time before the criminals succeed.
Misha Travels started operations on Monday with the slogan ‘No fatigue, no fear’, making it the first airline with a dedicated service plying the route, which is less than three hours by road.
Tope Popoola, a management official at Misha Travels, said the route was ordinarily too short to be taken seriously, but that the worsening security of road travel was the dominant basis for going into the business.
“We have paid careful attention to the crisis along Kaduna-Abuja highway and we saw a huge market for air travel that is emerging from it,” he said.
“Most people would ordinarily be inclined to drive the two hours. It may look as if before you fasten your seatbelt, you are already in Abuja, but people are more concerned about their safety.”
The airline operates a Bombardier CRJ plane that could carry up to 50 passengers.
Ten years ago, Misha Travels’ calculation might have been dismissed as a meaningless adventure, but with road travel between Abuja and Kaduna now turning increasingly deadly, many have welcomed the move.
However, poor passengers like petty traders and artisans who travel frequently on the Abuja-Kaduna corridor, having an airline to service that route means the government would no longer pay close attention to the security challenges on the axis because the well-heeled will no longer travel by road or train.