A Nigerian airline has launched daily flights between the capital, Abuja, and North-west Kaduna State, a fairly short distance for daily air service, after insecurity forced commuters to abandon a major road linking the two cities.
Misha Travels started operations with the slogan: ‘No fatigue, no fear’, appearing to be the first airline with a dedicated service to the route, which is less than three hours by road.
Tope Popoola, a management official at Misha Travels, said the route was admittedly too short to be taken seriously, but worsening road travel insecurity was the dominant basis for going into the business.
“We have paid careful attention to the crisis along Kaduna-Abuja Highway and we saw a huge market for air travel that is emerging from it,” Mr Popoola told an Online medium on Thursday. “Most people would ordinarily be inclined to drive the two hours. It May look as if before you fasten your seatbelt, you are already in Abuja, but people are more concerned about their safety.”
The airline operates a Bombardier CRJ plane that could carry up to 50 passengers.
Some 10 years ago, Misha Travels’ calculation might have been dismissed as a meaningless adventure, but with road travels between Abuja and Kaduna now turning increasingly deadly, many have welcomed the move.
Hundreds of travellers have either been kidnapped or killed along the highway that connects Abuja to Kaduna, a major hub in the country’s north.
Previously, airlines had flown passengers from Kaduna to Abuja, but those were flights bound for Lagos.
Medview and other airlines once operated flights from Kaduna to Lagos via Abuja, but they were layovers and not direct departure and destination routes.
Yakubu Datti, an aviation consultant, said the Misha Travels could not have gotten it wrong with the level of insecurity along Abuja-Kaduna Highway.
“I believe it is going to be economically prosperous because there is a huge flow of people between the two cities and no one wants to travel by road anymore,” Mr Datti said. He described the move as the first direct commercial flight between Abuja and Kaduna that could spur similar decisions from other airlines.
“It could even mark the beginning of more cross-regional flights because of the worsening insecurity,” the expert said.