The development of commercial air transportation in Nigeria dates from 1946, when the West African Airways Corporation (WACC), a statutory corporation, was established to provide air transport services in and between Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. Nigeria's area, the size of its population and the slowness of rail and road transportation, particularly between east and west, all favored rapid growth of a domestic air network (see Map 14). The unduplicated air route mileage is roughly 4,800 miles. Because of its geographic location, Nigeria has become an international traffic center as well. Kano is one of the most important African airports, serving as a transit point for international services between Europe and Central and South Africa, while flights connecting the French, Spanish and Portuguese territories stop at Kano and Lagos.
Civil aviation is almost entirely in the hands of government agencies, although there are a few privately owned planes.
The Department of Civil Aviation is responsible for the management of airfields and ground installations and for the enforcement of aeronautical regulations. It is also responsible for air telecommunications, in conjunction with the Posts and Telegraphs Department, and for construction and maintenance of airfields and buildings, in conjunction with the Public Works Department. In 1953 its staff numbered 418. Increases in technical staff, particularly in radio communications, will be necessary.
Air traffic has been growing steadily. In 1949-50 there were only 16,000 take-offs and landings at all Nigerian airfields; by 1951-52 the figure had risen to 26,444. In 1951-52 passenger movement to-