In the second quarter of 2017, overall passenger traffic (domestic and international) increased by 21.06% over the previous quarter but declined by -18.56% year on year. Similarly, aircraft movement increased by 11.23% in Q2 2017 over Q1 2017 but declined by -20.40% year on year.
We attribute the quarter on quarter growth in Q2 2017 over Q1 2017, partly due to closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja between late Q1 2017 and early Q1 2017 which led to a general decline in passenger and aircraft movement and the reopening of the Abuja airport in the second half of Q2 2017 which once again increased activity in the aviation sector.
Our conclusion is further buttressed by the fact that Kaduna and Niger (Minna) Airports which are both close to Abuja and serve as alternative routed to Abuja, recorded significant increase in passenger traffic and aircraft movement year on year while all other airports recorded mostly negative year on year growth.
This strong decline in year on year passenger and aircraft movement I Q2 2017 can be attributed to high double-digit inflation during Q2 2017 which averaged 16.53% year on year in Q2 2017, thereby squeezing household baskets. In particular, air fare charges have grown on average 57.3% (four major airports (Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt) in Q2 2017 over the average in Q2 2016.
During the period under review, air travel was largely restricted to necessary and business- related activities. For the half year of 2017, overall passenger traffic decreased by 23.85% year on year, while aircraft movement declined by -24.53% With respect to cargo and mail, Q2 2017 Cargo was 1.39% higher than in Q1 2017 but -7.72% lower than the level in Q2 2016, while mail was 28.57% higher in Q2 2017 than Q1 2017 and 1,070.9% higher than Q2 2016 Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos, as usual, recorded the most activities during the quarter, accounting for 40.7% of domestic passengers, 74.8% of international passengers, 89.0% of cargo movement and 96.7% of mail movement.
In terms economic output, the Air transport sector in the 2nd quarter increased marginally in real terms by 0.15%, slightly down from the rate recorded in the previous quarter, when it recorded 1.53% growth.