- Players in the aviation industry in Nigeria said that data gathering and sharing are unreliable because of sharp practices by various organisations.
Put simply, data is used to provide insight. Businesses, when armed with this, are able to improve the everyday decisions they make. This is not just for management, either – it applies from the ground up.
However, data is rarely useful in its raw state; it must be processed and presented in a way that works on the appropriate levels so that it can be applied properly.
Organisations that utilise sophisticated data-led insights cannot simply rest on their laurels and marvel at a job well done, however.
Inaccuracies in the data can quickly escalate from a minor criticism into something that compromises all the hard work and effort previously invested.
Statisticians have noted that accurate data can drive efficiency, profitability and growth. Inaccurate data, on the other hand, can cause real detriment to a business.
In the aviation industry, data analysis is very important as this helps government, business organisations especially private investors and analysts to plan for the future.
But, while accurate data is easily received from Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and other developing aviation industry, the same cannot be said of Nigeria where disparity of data has over the years taken the centre stage.
There is no getting away from the fact that data about the aviation industry comes from everywhere these days in Nigeria.
Different government agencies and Non-Governmental Orgnisations (NGOs) come out quarterly or annually to release contradicting figures to the public. Data collected in the sector are not regarded or seen as useful by international agencies.
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently released the full year figures for aviation industry 2017, and the figures included air travellers, air traffic by airport, aircraft movement, aircraft movement by airport, cargo movement, cargo movement by airport and so many others.
According to NBS, the full year passengers’ traffic for 2017 was 13,394,945, of which 6,693,687 at arrivals and 6,701,258 at departures.
However, an earlier report released by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) indicated that only 11,221,617 passengers passed through the nation’s 32 airports in 2017, representing 26.3 percent drop when compared to the preceding year.
The breakdown of NCAA statistics indicated that eight domestic airlines ferried 7,646,075 as inbound and outbound passengers while the 30 international carriers airlifted 3,575,542 passengers within the period.
The total passengers airlifted by domestic airlines represented 53.2 percent of the total volume of passengers ferried within the period as against 72 percent recorded in 2016.
But, not a few aviation analysts and stakeholders welcomed the data released by NBS as the difference in the data released by the two organisations indicated 2,173,328 passengers difference.
The question on the lips of many players in the sector is “why is it difficult for organisations in the sector to have a uniform and accurate data like other countries?” “Are the statisticians intentionally giving the public false data in order to cover up fraud or carry out such in the system?” “How involved are the airlines in this act?”
One of the major players in the sector who didn’t want his name mentioned told our correspondent that data racketeering in aviation industry is a global menace.
According to the source, agencies that engage in data gathering and sharing do it for several reasons.
He noted that the airlines sometimes avoid payment of accurate charges to government agencies and connive with some of the officials to defraud the system, which leads to discrepancies in data.
“The fraud in data gathering and sharing is not just Nigeria. The airlines for instance, try as much as possible to doctor the data in order not to pay some charges to the government. For example, an airline may have 20 landings in a day, but because it doesn’t want to pay the total charges, it can connive with some officials to record 12 for it, settles the officials involved revenue for three landings while the airline itself pockets the other five.
“Also, there are different charges for day and night landing. An airline may land in the evening, but may conspire with an official to record day landing for it. This is so because it is more expensive to land at night than day. This is not just a Nigerian thing, but global phenomenon. Mega carriers do it too.
“With all these, it would be difficult to have a uniform data as different agencies are involved. The most important thing is to know if there was a growth or decline in the data in the sector within the period. The quantum of decline doesn’t matter. All you need do is to use your own data to do your planning. NCAA is there right now and as I am concerned, that is what I would use to do my planning as a player in the sector”, he said
Also, speaking on the issue, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) agreed that it would be difficult to have a uniform data of the industry since several organisations are involved in data gathering.
He, however, noted that in order to resolve the discrepancies, agencies in the sector reconcile their data regularly before going to the public with them, stressing that efforts are being geared towards improving data collection in the industry by agencies.
“All the statisticians in the agencies do come together from NCAAA, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), FAAN for the purpose of reconciling the information before we issue them out. But, for the purpose of day-to-day data, we have to rely on what we collect and then, later on, we can do reconciliation either with our agencies or our immediate stakeholders so that whatever data that is sent out, is data that is agreeable to all of us.
“So, this reconciliation we do quarterly with the agencies helps us a lot in order to make sure that at the end of the year when we want to publish our information, the data is captured by all of us and the airlines. These data are regularly reconciled to ensure we get required information and all the errors are usually minimised.”
Grp. Capt. Jon Ojikutu (rtd), the General Secretary of Aviation Round Table (ART) in his comment said that it was not the first time that the NBS would release conflicting figures from that of NCAA or any other agency in the sector.
For instance, he said that NBS in its statistics for 2016 said aviation industry contributed less than one per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), despite the report of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which said the sector contributed $8.5bn to the economy in the same period.
Ojikutu noted that FAAN, which is in charge of passenger traffic in the sector and NCAA came out with about 11 million passengers’ traffic for the industry in 2017 and wondered where NBS got its statistics from if not from the government agencies in the industry.
He said: “This is not the first time that the NBS would goof with conflicting figures from aviation recorded statistics. Last year, it said that the industry contributed less than one per cent to the national GDP, even when IATA said that aviation contributed $8.5bn.
“This figure did not include the domestic airlines earnings, while only about 30 per cent of the figures are for tickets sales, which the foreign airlines repatriated home; the rest 70 per cent are in payment for Passenger Service Charge (PSC), landing and parking, ground handling services, air traffic and navigational services, fuel services and others.”
Ojikutu called on the aviation agencies to jointly take the NBS to task on the conflicting reports and report such to the office of the ministry of national planning before organisations started using the NBS figures for national planning. “The government must investigate the source of the NBS figures,” he said.
On his part, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo, the Direct, Research, Zenith Travels said that data basically is used to plan, access, analyse and extrapolate.
But, once there are discrepancies in data, the main essence is destroyed while it also gives room for fraudulent activities.
He said that the wrong statistics released by NBS may be as a result of carelessness or orchestrated fraud to have a wide difference of over two million passengers.
Ohunayo called for reconciliation of figures as a first step to correct such anomalies in the future while the government could also probe the process of data gathering to determine if the intent was to defraud the system.
He added: “The automation of air transport industry has greatly improved data capturing why we have different figures in Nigeria really baffles me. Considering these figures are needed to complement airport concession process while also using it to attract investors to our airlines and other sectors of the industry.
“Prompt investigation of present discrepancies is key while the ministry coordinates data information, which should be delivered on a monthly basis.”
Source: Daily Independent