The Nigerian authorities has introduced a takeover of the nation’s largest airline – Arik Air – to forestall it going bust. However that is simply the newest instance of issues in Nigeria’s aviation trade, experiences the BBC’s Martin Endurance from Lagos.
The federal government company (Asset Administration Company of Nigeria) now accountable for supervising the airline stated the choice was made to “instill sanity within the nation’s aviation sector and to forestall a significant disaster.”
Customer support at Arik Air is at instances non-existent. When the airline cancels a flight, more often than not its floor employees flee slightly than cope with the fallout from irate passengers.
As the corporate’s troubles mounted on the finish of final yr, 70% of its worldwide flights had been delayed.
The agency’s employees bear the brunt for an airline that even by Nigerian requirements is a byword for utter dysfunction. Final month the corporate was pressured to subject a plea for passengers to not attack its employees.
The best way to survive the chaos
The federal government company that pushed the airline into receivership reeled off an astonishing rap sheet of Arik’s alleged offences – huge debt, unhealthy governance, and “erratic operational challenges.”
As Nigeria’s largest airline, the federal government determined that it couldn’t enable the corporate to break down.
However to fly Arik typically means by no means getting off the bottom.
I used to be at Enugu airport once I was informed my flight was cancelled. The person beside me on the check-in desk simply shook his head – all his flights had been cancelled for the previous two days.
To outlive Nigerian air journey means developing with new methods.
First, discover probably the most dependable airline and keep it up. And, if attainable, take the primary flight within the morning because it’s usually assured to go on time (give or take an hour.)
Delays develop into compounded all through the day as most airways function a shuttle service. So an excellent guess is mid-afternoon flight will most likely flip into early night flight. Passengers usually solely miss their flight if it really leaves on time.
No one needs to spend an excessive amount of time on the airports right here. Port Harcourt was named the world’s worst in 2015.
Typically talking, although, I’ve all the time felt fairly secure on flights other than after a rocky touchdown when a number of of the overhead baggage bins burst open.
To be honest to the airways, Nigeria will not be the best place to function. Worldwide carriers face big points repatriating their income as they cannot get their arms on due to Nigeria’s present financial disaster.
The greenback scarcity has additionally led to aviation gasoline shortages inflicting huge disruption up to now few months.
Capital’s airport to shut
The most recent main inconvenience going through the traveller to Nigeria is the closure of Abuja’s airport for six weeks ranging from subsequent month whereas main repairs are carried out on its runway. No less than one airline has broken its touchdown gear on the pot-holed tarmac.
With the capital’s solely airport shut down, the federal government goes to reroute flights to an airport within the close by metropolis of Kaduna.
The small airport there at present handles simply 300 passengers a day in comparison with the 5,000 who cross by means of Abuja’s terminal. Many predict chaos.
Travelling to the capital from Kaduna can even contain a two-hour journey alongside a street that has been hit by a spate of kidnappings. The federal government is promising to placed on additional safety.
Unsurprisingly, a number of worldwide airways have already introduced they won’t being flying into Kaduna, though direct flights to Lagos, Kano or Port Harcourt will proceed.
There are, nonetheless, a number of perks about air journey in Nigeria: Free snacks onboard; unbelievably low cost extra baggage and the truth that you may board with as a lot carry-on baggage as you may really stick with it.
Additionally, throughout a yr’s journey in Nigeria, my baggage have all the time arrived on time, which is greater than I can say for British airports.
And regardless of the immense frustrations, I often strike up conversations with full strangers.
Delayed Nigerians could make for excellent firm whereas ready on the airport.