Throughout 2016, the performance of the different parts of the Nigerian Aviation sector varied. There were large increases in the volume of both cargo and mail, especially in the final quarter.
By contrast, most airports recorded a decline in the number of aircraft to land and depart. Output in the Air Transport Sector, as well as its contribution to GDP, declined in 2016.
During the year, several airlines had operational issues, and either cut back on services provided, or stopped operations entirely.
In real terms, output in this sector declined by 4.9% between 2015 and 2016, with the largest year on year fall recorded in the final quarter, of 13.3%.
However, despite the recession which may have been expected to reduce demand for travel, the number of passengers using most airports increased. The fall in output was likely to be more a reflection of increased costs of operations, rather than decreased demand.
Figure 1: Real Year on Year Growth in Air Transport Sector, (%)
Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos was the airport to record the most activity, and accounted for 34.2% of domestic passengers, 69.1% of international passengers, 91.7% of cargo movement and 76.9% of mail movement.
Total Passenger Traffic
In 2016, the total number of passengers to pass through Nigerian airports was 15,232,597. Of these, 72.0% were domestic passengers, travelling within Nigeria, and the remaining 28.0% were international, entering or leaving Nigeria. Between 2015 and 2016 the number of passengers recorded by the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has increased by 6.3%.
However, since the publication of the last report, FAAN has included data on passengers travelling through more airports, including Bauchi, Eket, Gombe and Uyo. Together, the newly included airports accounted for 667,877 passengers in 2016, or 4.4% of the total. Excluding these from the comparison with 2015, reveals that between these two years, total passenger traffic increased by 1.6% for those airports included in both years.
In both the third and final quarters of 2016, there was a quarterly decline in the number of passengers travelling through Nigerian airports. Between the second and third quarters, the number fell by 1.0%, from 3,900,649 to 3,861,252.
However, in the final quarter the fall was more pronounced; the number fell by 5.6% to reach 3,644,844. This contrasts with both 2015, in which the number of passengers increased slightly between the third and fourth quarters (by 0.9%) and 2014, in which there was growth of 5.9% in the number of passengers between the same two quarters.
These totals hide differing trends in the total number of domestic and international passengers. The number of domestic passengers fell between the second and third quarters by 6.4%, from 2,864,072 to 2,681,693. In the final quarter, the number fell again by 1.6% to reach 2,637,975.
However, there was a large spike in international passengers in the third quarter: the number increased by 13.8%, from 1,036,577 to 1,179,559, before falling back by 14.6% in the final quarter to reach 1,006,869. However, due to the small number of international passengers relative to domestic passengers, the latter had a larger impact on total movements in passenger numbers in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter this reversed, with the drop in international passenger numbers contributing 4.5% points of the 5.6% drop in total passengers, or roughly 80%. This spike in the third quarter for international travel may be part of a seasonal pattern: 2014 and 2015 also recorded spikes in the number of international travelers in the third quarter.
Figure 2: Total Number of Passengers in 2016, Domestic and International
Domestic Passenger Traffic
When comparing airports for which information is available for both 2015 and 2016, there was an increase in domestic passenger numbers between these years, of 2.3%.
However, the first and second halves of the year differed substantially: whereas year on year growth in domestic passenger numbers of 9.7% and 10.3% were recorded in the first two quarters respectively, declines of 1.3% and 8.2% were recorded in the third and fourth quarters. Due to their size, most of this decline was accounted for by Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, and in both quarters, Abuja accounted for the largest fall.
Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos remained the busiest domestic airport in the third and final quarters of 2016, and this airport accounted for 891,770 passengers in the third, and 909,851 passengers in the final quarter.
This represented 33.3% and 34.5% respectively. The share of domestic passengers accounted for by MMA remained broadly stable throughout 2016, with the highest share recorded in the first quarter of 34.6%, and the lowest recorded in the third quarter.
As with the overall number of domestic passengers, the number to travel though MMA declined relative to the corresponding values in 2015. In the third quarter, MMA airport recorded a year on year decline of 7.3%, compared to an overall decline in domestic passenger numbers of 1.3% (when comparing same set of airports) and in the fourth, this fell slightly to a decline of 7.5%, although this was a smaller contraction than in the overall fall of 8.2%.
Similarly, the share of passengers accounted for by Abuja Airport, the second busiest airport in 2016, remained between 30% and 31% in each quarter of 2016. In the third and fourth quarters, there were 822,702 and 810,410 domestic passengers to travel through Abuja respectively.
In each quarter this was equivalent to 30.7% of the total number, which is higher than the shares in the first and second quarter of 30.4% and 30.2%. Abuja was the airport to record the largest year on year reduction in domestic passengers in absolute terms in each of the third and fourth quarters.
In the third quarter of 2016, there were 81,270 less domestic passengers to travel through than in the same quarter of 2015, a reduction of 9.0%. In the fourth quarter, the year on year drop fell to 110,005, equivalent to a 12.0% fall. The third busiest domestic airport in 2016 was Port Harcourt, although the number of passengers fell throughout the year.
In the first quarter, the number of domestic passengers to travel through this airport was 273,240, but this fell to 258,257 in the second, 233,165 in the third and 209,366 in the final quarter, declines of 5.5%, 9.7% and 10.2% respectively. Accordingly, this airport’s share fell from 9.8% at the start of the year to 7.9% in the final quarter.
Figure 3: Domestic Passengers by Main Airport, 2016 Q3 and Q4
International Passenger Traffic
In contrast to domestic passenger travel, the number of international passengers travelling to and from Nigeria declined in 2016 relative to 2015 by 2.5%, when comparing airports for which information is available in both years.
The year on year growth rate steadily declined throughout the year, after recording growth of 5.2% in the first quarter, declines of 1.7%, 4.4% and 8.2% were recorded in the second, third and fourth quarters respectively.
However, the reduction was not enough to outweigh the increase in the number of domestic passengers, meaning that overall, total passenger numbers increased between 2015 and 2016 (when comparing same airports).
As with domestic travel, MMA in Lagos was the airport to account for the largest number of international travels. However, whereas Lagos and Abuja accounted for broadly similar shares of passengers, Lagos dominates international travel, and in 2016 accounted for 69.1% of international travel.
This is perhaps unsurprising, given Lagos’s status as the business centre of Nigeria, and the location of the clear majority of foreign investment. In the third quarter of 2016, 763,374 international passengers travelled through MMA, an increase of 6.0% relative to the second quarter. However, in the final quarter the number fell by 5.5% to 721,181.
Despite these trends, the share of MMA airport moved in the opposite direction, falling to from 69.5% in the second quarter to 64.7% in the third, before rising again to 71.6% in the final quarter, the highest share in the year. Although the number of passengers travelling through MMA increased in the third quarter, there were large increases in several other airports.
Conversely, many international airports saw large falls in passenger numbers in the final quarter. In both the third and final quarters, MMA airport recorded year on year decline in the number of international passengers, as with domestic passengers. In the third quarter, the airport recorded a year on reduction of 7.4%, although the decline in the final quarter was less sharp at 6.7%.
Abuja International Airport was the second busiest international airport in 2016, and accounted for 20.8% of international travel. As the capital of Nigeria and the seat of government, there are many business travelers to pass through Abuja, as with Lagos. In the third quarter, there were 252,332 international passengers to pass through Abuja, an increase of 16.5% relative to the second quarter.
This was nearly as large an increase as Lagos in absolute terms, despite Abuja airport accounting for considerably fewer international passengers.
However, in the final quarter, the number fell by 20.4% to reach 200,795. Abuja’s share of international passengers remained stable compared to Lagos; Abuja accounted 21.4% of international passengers in the third quarter and 19.9% in the final quarter.
As in 2015, Kano International Airport was the third largest international airport in 2016, and accounted for 4.8% of international passengers.
Nevertheless, this airport recorded large declines in international passenger numbers in both the third and fourth quarter. In the second quarter, there were 67,274 international passengers to pass through Kano, but this fell by 16.1% in the third quarter to reach 56,451, and fell by a further 42.9% to reach 32,261 in the final quarter.
Accordingly, Kano’s share of international passengers fell from 6.5% in the second quarter to 4.8% in the third, and further to 3.2% in the final quarter.
Figure 4: International Passengers by Main Airport, 2016 Q3 and Q4
Total Aircraft Movement
In 2016, a total of 266,849 aircrafts arrived at, or departed from Nigerian airports. As with passenger numbers, this includes several airports that were not included in the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) data for 2015. In 2015, the total number of aircrafts to pass travel to or from Nigerian airports was 242,831.
While this would imply an annual increase of 9.8%, this picture changes considerably when only airports included in both periods are examined. In this case, the number of aircrafts travelling to and from Nigerian airports fell by 7.0%, to 225,942.
Thus, the increase was due to the newly included airports which accounted for 40,717 aircraft in 2016, or 15.2%. The reduction in aircraft numbers travelling to and from the other airports may be due to difficulties with sourcing aircraft fuel during the year, as well as providers anticipating lower demand resulting from the recession, and therefore reducing flight numbers.
The third quarter of the year recorded the smallest amount of aircraft movement, with 64,010 aircraft landing and departing Nigerian airports. This represents a drop of 8.6% relative to the second quarter figure of 70,023 aircrafts. Following this, there was a slight rebound in the final quarter of 1.2%, to reach 64,790 in the final quarter.
In contrast to passenger movement, the number of domestic and international aircrafts to travel through Nigeria followed a similar pattern in 2016. After recording growth in the second quarter of 2016, both domestic and international aircraft numbers declined in the third quarter, by 9.7% and 2.8% respectively.
In the final quarter, both grew again, domestic aircrafts by 1.2% and international aircrafts by 2.6%. Consequently, there were 53,119 domestic aircrafts to fly through Nigerian airports in the third quarter and 54,483 in the final quarter. For international aircrafts, the numbers were 10,891 in the third quarter and 10,307 in the final quarter.
In general, aircrafts flying internationally were larger during the period.
In 2016, there were 49 passengers on average on each domestic flight, whereas on each international flight there was an average of 98 passengers. However, for both domestic and international flights, there was an increase in the number of passengers per flight in the third quarter.
For domestic flights, the ratio increased to 50 passengers before falling back to 48 passengers in the final quarter. For international flights, the number increased sharply in the third quarter to 108, before falling back to 98 in the final quarter.
Figure 5: Domestic/International Split of Aircraft by Airport, Second Half of 2016
Domestic Aircraft Movement
The shares of domestic flights accounted for by each airport are similar to the shares of passengers accounted for by each airport, as would be expected. However, aircrafts departing from and flying to larger airports carry more people. Therefore, the share of aircrafts accounted for airports such as Lagos and Abuja is smaller than their share of passengers.
During 2016, Lagos airport accounted for 34.2% of domestic passengers, but only 27.5% of domestic aircraft, due to the average number of passengers on aircraft to and from Lagos being 61.1, more than 10 passengers higher than average. Similarly, although Abuja accounted for 30.5% of passengers, it accounted for 24.4% of aircraft.
In the third quarter of 2016, Lagos recorded a fall in the number of aircrafts relative to the second quarter, of 13.8%, to reach 14,097, before rebounding in the final quarter, growing by 9.9% to reach 15,491. Consequently, its share fell to 26.5% in the third quarter from 27.8% in the second, before rebounding to 28.4% in the final quarter. Abuja also recorded a decline in domestic aircraft movement in the third quarter; 12,593 aircrafts moved through Abuja’s domestic airport compared to 13,682 in the second quarter, a drop of 9.2%.
However, growth in the amount of domestic aircraft movement in the final quarter was smaller than for Lagos, at 1.4%, resulting in 12,764 domestic aircrafts to leave and arrive in Abuja in the final quarter. Abuja’s shares were 23.7% and 23.4% in these quarters.
International Aircraft Movement
MMA airport in Lagos accounted for a slightly lower share of international aircrafts than of international passengers; its share was 64.3% in the third quarter of 2016 and 67.1% in the final quarter, compared with shares of 64.7% and 71.6% in the third and fourth quarters respectively for international passengers.
The difference between shares of passengers and aircrafts for Lagos is smaller for international travel. This likely reflects the fact that most international flights are larger, and therefore the difference between aircrafts leaving the biggest airports (such as Lagos) and the others is less pronounced than for domestic flights.
Abuja International was the second largest airport in terms of aircrafts, and accounted for 21.1% in the third quarter and 22.0% in the fourth quarter, which compares to shares of 21.4% and 19.9% for international passengers in the same quarters.
Cargo Movement by Airport
Throughout 2016, cargo movement increased steadily, with increases of 7.7%, 8.4% and 10.4% being recorded in the second, third and fourth quarter of 2016 respectively.
Consequently, the total volume of cargo movement rose from 45,551,487 kilograms in the second quarter to 49,359,641 kilograms in the third, before rising again to 54,515,095 kilograms in the final quarter.
For 2016, the total volume of cargo movement was 191,738,000 kilograms. This compares to 189,171,872 kilograms in 2015, representing a year on year increase of 1.4%.
Figure 6: Weight of Cargo Moved Through Nigerian Airports in 2016, Million KG
As in previous periods, the bulk of the weight of cargo to move through Nigerian Airports went through MMA airport in Lagos in 2016. However, the share accounted for by Lagos declined in the second and third quarter. In the second quarter, Lagos accounted for 96.0%, but this fell to 92.9% in the third quarter and 87.3% in the fourth quarter.
The amount of cargo to move through MMA nevertheless increased, from 43,739,697 kilograms to 45,840,223 kilograms between the second and third quarter, and to 47,609,805 kilograms in the fourth, equal to growth rates of 4.8% and 3.9% in the third and fourth quarters. However, the other airports to record cargo movement saw much larger increases in these quarters.
In the third quarter, the amount of cargo to move through Abuja airport increased from 491,812 kilograms to 639,144 kilograms, an increase of 30.0%. In the final quarter the increase was even larger: 2,151,081 kilograms passed through Abuja airport in the fourth quarter, and increase of 236.6%.
Similarly, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports each recorded triple digit percentage growth in the third quarter, and Kano and Enugu recorded triple digit growth in the fourth quarter.
Compared to the same periods of 2015, MMA airport recorded an increase in the weight of cargo moved through in the third quarter of 10.1% but a slight decrease in the final quarter, of 0.4%.
This differs substantially from Abuja; this airport recorded a significant fall in the third quarter relative to the same quarter of 2015, of 32.0%, but in the fourth quarter, the weight of cargo to move through Abuja nearly tripled, increasing by 173.5%.
By comparison, Port Harcourt, the third most important airport for cargo, recorded a year on year increase of 2.1% in the third quarter, and a year on year decrease of 3.7% in the fourth quarter.
Post Moved by Airport
As with cargo, the weight of mail to move through Nigerian airports increased sharply throughout 2016. In the second, third and fourth quarters growth rates of 17.2%, 113.4% and 162.4% were recorded respectively.
Consequently, the weight of mail to move through Nigerian airports increased from 709,986 kilograms in the second quarter, to 1,515,331 kilograms in the third quarter and 3,975,670 in the final quarter.
In 2016 the total weight of mail to mover through Nigerian airports was 6,806,558 kilograms, which represents an increase of 5.7% relative to 2015. Due to the large year on year increase recorded by Lagos airport in the final quarter, of 883.3%, the final quarter saw the largest year on year increase in the weight of mail moved, of 559.9%.
Figure 7: Weight of Post Moved Through Nigerian Airports in 2016, Thousand KG
Lagos was the airport to account for the largest volume of mail in each quarter of 2016. In the third quarter of 2016, the volume of mail to pass through Lagos was 889,127 kilograms, equivalent to 58.7% of the total volume. However, Lagos recorded a dramatic increase in the final quarter of the year, to 3,551,663 kilograms, equivalent to an increase of 299.5%.
Consequently, the share of the volume of mail accounted for by Lagos rose to 89.3% in this quarter. The share of Abuja fell in each quarter of 2016. In the third quarter, the volume of mail to pass through Abuja increased to 403,470 kilograms from 272,078 in the second quarter, an increase of 48.3%.
However, due to the larger increases in the volumes to pass through Lagos and Kano, Abuja’s share nevertheless declined from 38.3% in the second quarter to 26.6% in the third.
In the final quarter, the volume of mail passing through Abuja increased by 5.1% to reach 424,007 kilograms, but again due to the significant increase recorded by Lagos, Abuja’s share again fell, to 10.7%. The volume of mail to pass through Kano spiked in the third quarter, increasing to 222,734 kilograms from 9,020 in the second, before falling to zero kilograms in the final quarter.
More detail on the movement of mail through Nigeria can be found within the Annual Postal Services report for 2016.