Transport by air is the system of moving goods and passengers through the air by aeroplanes, helicopters etc. Air transport is very fast and comfortable but it is expensive. Air transport has contributed greatly to commercial activities in international trade. Some airlines operating in Nigeria include Arik Air, Air Peace, Dana Air, Aero contractors etc. Air transport requires some sophisticated gadgets for landing and taking off. Transportation by air is operated in the airport. Examples of airports in Nigeria are Kano and Lagos International airports.
The various means of transportation by air include: planes, hovercrafts, helicopters, jets and rockets.
Advantages of Air Transport
- It is Very Fast: The speed is very high, hence it is the fastest means of transportation.
- Suitable for Perishable and Fragile Goods: Air transport is most suitable for perishable, expensive and fragile items.
- Comfortable and Luxurious: This is by far the most comfortable and luxurious means of transportation.
- Suitable for Long Distances: Air transport provides a very good means of transport over long distances, e.g. New York to Lagos is over 5000 kilometers.
- Moves on Schedule: It is very reliable because it travels on schedule.
- Multipurpose Usage: It can be used for taking aerial photographs, surveying and spraying of crops with insecticide.
- Powerful Instrument of War: Air transport is used for warfare, and it is very effective as was demonstrated in the “Operation Desert Storm’ by the US against Iraq in 1990.
- Routes are not Costly: It cost nothing to provide route for air transport.
Disadvantages of Air Transport
- Expensive: The cost of air fare or charges is expensive, e.g. Nigeria to New York costs thousands of naira.
- It is Vulnerable to Climatic Changes: The weather may disrupt flight, hence it is limited by weather conditions.
- It is not Flexible: Since it travels on schedule, there is high degree of inflexibility.
- Unsuitable for Heavy and Bulky Goods: Air transport is not good for moving bulky and heavy goods like machinery.
- High Operational Cost: The cost of buying and maintaining aircraft together with landing facilities is very expensive.
- Prone to Accident: When accident occurs, it is always very fatal. All the passengers on board are most likely to die when an aeroplane crashes.
- It Requires Supplementary Means of Transportation: Air transport cannot land anywhere except the airport, hence other means of transportation must be involved to supplement its operation.