For several years, British Airways has been making the highest earnings from the Nigerian air transport market and has remained the premium airline, making its highest revenue from its first class cabin in its Lagos and Abuja operations.
With about 70 first class and business class seats, British Airways makes in one flight what Ethiopian Airlines makes in two flights to Nigeria and this is followed by Virgin Atlantic which also belongs to the premium class along with Emirates.
These three airlines make the highest amount of revenue among international carriers that operate in Nigeria, even more than Air France/KLM which operates about 21 flights from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.
Industry analyst told THISDAY that Ethiopian Airlines passengers were largely for the economy cabin and the fare for each passenger is less than $1000, “so one BA first class ticket is equivalent to 10 economy passengers in Ethiopia and you know, BA always have high load factor in its first class and business class cabin that sometimes you may not get a seat there.”
“So the top premium players in Nigeria air the British Airways, Virgin Atlantic which has about 40 upper class seats and Emirates, which operates into Lagos 14 times a week and airlifts the top class passengers to Middle East, with Etihad and Qatar which for now are small players in Nigeria.” together
But Ethiopia Airlines is getting more revenue from cargo as a preferred airline for Nigeria’s business men and women who travel to Far East and other parts of Asia to buy goods and according to informed source, Nigeria may be the airline’s most profitable routes.
So with Air France/ KLM operating 21 times a week, BA 14 times a week from Abuja and Lagos, Lufthansa operating 14 times to Abuja, Lagos enroute Port Harcourt, Virgin Atlantic operating seven times from Lagos, British Airways still leads the pack with its premium class.
New entrants from the United States, Delta Air Lines and United are making significant impact but as new carriers they are yet to gather the goodwill which BA has garnered over 70 years it has been operating into the country and competition is really rife in the US route as the two airlines started operating at the same period, without one having an edge of a period of dominance, although Delta, United and Arik operate to different cities in the large country that is almost a continent.
The analyst noted: “British Airways first and business class of one single flight can pay for two flights of Ethiopian Airlines, which is the most successful African airline operating into Nigeria. BA will always dominate in the Nigerian route. Virgin, Air France/KLM and Lufthansa will always come behind but they are not doing badly. Delta and United are not yet playing at the level of BA,” the analyst said.
These airlines take over N35 billion out of Nigeria every year as capital flight.