Cargo airlines have cut down their flight frequencies into Nigeria because of low market demand, President, Foreign Airlines Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), Kingsley Nwokoma said at the weekend.
In an interview, Nwokoma said cargo flights were yet to resume optimal flights after the COVID-19 pandemic and ease of lockdown in many countries had been eased out.
He said many carriers because of poor passenger traffic were still using their aircraft for cargo operations a development he affirmed was paying off for airlines.
He said cargo airlines no longer come into the country with bigger aircraft due to low import and export activities because of the impact of the pandemic on the sector.
He stated that the pandemic had significantly reduced tonnage forcing airlines to use smaller aircraft, adding that most of the mega cargo carriers with under belly aircraft of 45 tons of cargo, no longer come into the country with their cargo aircraft.
“We still have cargo coming in from China, Asia, the US and Europe but you can never compare the volume like the normal times. We still have European airlines that refused to come into Nigeria because they are not sure of our preparedness and our figures,” he said.
According to him, there were still slow cargo activities, but expressed the hope that with the vaccines coming out, things would definitely improve.
He expressed optimism that with the coming out of vaccines, things may begin to see some improvement in the business in the near future.
Nwokoma, however, said it may take the industry about 15 years to see stability due to the COVID-19 impact on aviation, adding that some carriers were returning their fleets as their projection did not meet their targets.
“If you ordered an aircraft and you know it’s not going to be useful to you, you can only stop that order. Aviation is the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The AFARN chief stated that there had been an increase of about 35 per cent in business as against 10 percent last year.
“There is significant improvement in cargo coming compared to COVID-19 era with at least a 35 percent increase”.