Drawing on data provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has released its latest report on air passenger traffic. The report estimates total traffic in Q4 2017 at 3.7 million passengers, representing an increase of 5% y/y and a decline of -0.6% q/q.
When we consider the full year data, the report reveals total traffic of 13.4 million passengers in 2017 representing a -8.0% y/y. Generally, there is a more positive outlook for the economy. However, purchasing power and consumer confidence remain subdued. We expect increased patronage as consumption demand gradually picks up.
For Q4, we noticed passenger traffic on arrival flights outweighed departure. Passenger traffic on arrivals accounted for 51% of total domestic air travel and 52% of total international air travel.
According to the report, 72% of total air passengers in Q4 were domestic travelers. There was an increase in passenger traffic of 4% q/q for domestic travel.
We note a 26% q/q increase on the Owerri route in Q4 and an increase of 60% when compared with Q1. Generally, December attracts increased traffic on this route as most Easterners return to the East for Christmas festivities via this route.
As for international travel, air passenger traffic contracted by -11% q/q and grew marginally by 1% y/y. We suspect the decline mirrors the adjustment to spending patterns by most Nigerian nationals, the local tourism industry has recorded a pick-up in activity as vacations abroad are now relatively expensive due to fx depreciation.
We understand that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority recently received about 15 new operating permit applications. This increased interest in securing airline permits may be linked to a perceived positive outlook for the sector. The national accounts for Q4 2017 show that air transport grew by 5% y/y.