Investigations have revealed that one of the three foreign carriers operating direct flight from their bases, Air France/KLM, may quit Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Port Harcourt, due to low load factor.
A source close to the Ministry of Transport, Aviation Unit, confided in newsmen that the airline, which conveyed over 300, 000 passengers out of its three major points in Nigeria in 2018, had already informed the ministry of its decision to quit the route.
Also, it was learnt that the airline had stopped selling tickets to passengers on the route.
It would be recalled that a new terminal for Port Harcourt International Airport was last October commissioned by the Federal Government.
The government had said then that the completion of the terminal would further drive more airlines, including foreign carriers, and passengers to the city.
Michel Colleau, General Manager, Air France KLM, Nigeria and Ghana, confirmed the development in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
He, however, attributed the suspension of the route to shortage of crew.
Colleau said apart from Nigeria, the airline also suspended some of its foreign routes in 2018, while that of Port Harcourt would take place in the summer of 2019.
He said: “We could not operate the whole network in 2018 and it will be the same in 2019. We have crew shortage.
“Some destinations have been suspended for summer 2019 and Port Harcourt is one of them. We are going to keep an office and representation in Port Harcourt and try to convince passengers to operate via Lagos or Abuja.
“We expect to come back one day to Port Harcourt, but this may not be possible due to the lack of crew for 2019 to operate Port Harcourt in an efficient and fair way for the Port Harcourt customers.”
Air France presently operates into three points in Nigeria: Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt.
Recall that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had last week mentioned Air France as one of the three foreign carriers operating into Port Harcourt Airport.
Two other foreign carriers operating into the city are Lufthansa and Cronos Airlines from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.