The Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) says its recently implemented free routine airspace has helped it improve on its Internally Generated Revenue despite introducing a reduction in flight time of aircraft using the country’s airspace to as much as 10 minutes.
Ag managing director of the agency, Mr. Mathew Lawrence Pwajok who disclosed this at a recent chat with newsmen in Lagos said that because of the reduction in time within the Nigeria airspace as much as 10 minutes, more airlines are now practically flying in the airspace allaying fears of revenue shortage.
The free routing airspace has similar benefits but is different in ways from the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) as the FRA means aircraft can route freely in any direction that is shorter taking advantage of wind direction and speed while the PBN routes are direct point to point but fixed routes.
Explaining the concept, Pwajok said,” Recently, we implemented what is called the free routing airspace in Nigeria (FRA), it’s the first time in the whole of continental Africa that this concept is implemented. This is a new concept and the benefits it gives to airspace users is that, pilots or aircraft or airlines are able to fly shorter routes, shorter flight times, reducing fuel consumption, reducing Co2 emissions and reducing pilot and ATC workload.
“This has put Nigeria as one of the few countries that has been able to do this, aircraft take advantage of wind direction, wind speed to fly shorter distances within our airspace following the FRA implementation, this move was aimed at assisting airlines during the Covid-19 recovery period to enhance operational efficiency. We have also done some flight routes, some regional routes to enhance connectivity within the African region.”
On how the FRA has helped improve on the agency’s IGR, Pwajok said volume above increment of charges was the major focus and that is how NAMA went about the concept which is now yielding some benefits.
He explained, “When we deploy systems, the primary objective is safety, efficiency and the economy of flight operations, first. Secondly, the revenue aspect of it comes in. we implemented free routine airspace in Nigeria and the commercial people were apprehensive.
“They said we were reducing the flight distance flown by aircraft and that is a factor of revenue because airlines pay by the calculation of the weight of the aircraft, distance flown over our airspace and we are cutting the distance, making it shorter. They were apprehensive that revenue would drop and we are telling them it is not a decision of revenue.
“We went ahead despite the fear and the apprehension and what we saved in some routes is as much as 10 minutes flying time for airlines on some of our routes. In some routes, we saved five, seven minutes and so on. It increased efficiency, short and direct routes within our airspace.
“That attracted additional flights and that is actually where the revenues begin to come in. Increasing revenues could scare people out. It is just like flight tickets, you might increase it to N200,000 and carry half of the passengers and you think you have made gains, carrying 50 per cent of the payload and the remaining space in the aircraft is empty.
“You have raised the fares, but you have not increased the number of passengers. You can reduce it and then more people will fly frequently,” he said.