Stakeholders in airlines and travel agencies have called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), to improve and enhance its technology for the new international protocols on check-in procedures for passengers to facilitate the turnaround performance of airlines.
Speaking on Friday at the Sabre Africa Network Webinar conference with the theme: ‘Understanding Travel Complexities Post-Covid-19:”, Views from the Stakeholders,’ they also charged investors in the travel business to improve on technology deliveries in order to remain relevant post Covid-19 era.
They stressed that without technology and dissemination of adequate information, the recovery level of air travel in the country would be slow when compared to other countries around the world.
Country Manager, Cabo Verde airlines, Gbenga Onitilo, said the global travel sector would never remain the same post-Covid-19 virus until vaccines are developed to combat the disease, adding that the advent of coronavirus had reduced capacity for airlines by over 90 per cent, while about 30 million people are directly and indirectly unemployed globally.
He explained that on resumption of flight operations, no airline would operate beyond 40 to 50 per cent capacity and expressed doubt about the preparation of Nigerian airports towards post-Covid-19 era.
Mr. Onitilo stressed that airport performance would determine airline’s turnaround performance expressing doubt about the preparation of Nigerian airports towards post-Covid-19 era.
“Airports will determine aircraft turnaround and not the airlines alone. We don’t know the pre-checking procedures in our airports. Dubai International Airport has embarked on automation process for air travellers, yet, we don’t have information from FAAN and NCAA.”
“We are not going to return to pre-Covid-19 era again in the way we do our businesses. So far, we have about 600,000 deaths globally, which has brought changes in human interactions. A lot of air travellers are bothered about aviation and the possibility of contracting Covid-19 onboard aircraft.”
“Everybody is now innovative about taking the business to their customers, even, the airlines are having a lot of shifts. The travel sector can never be the same again until you have the vaccines, which may come in the next 18 months. People have lost jobs and thousands of people are redundant. The protocols of airlines to ensure safety will determine the travel for the future.
Sales Manager for another regional airline, Mr. Abiola Bakare, however expressed optimism that the travel industry would return to the pre-Covid-19 era in the next two or three years and charged air operators to be ingenious and think out of the box in order to compete post-Covid-19 era, work with Travel Management Companies (TMCs) for improved delivery to clients.
He also called for harmonised health certificate for all travellers worldwide, saying that people would not travel if they would be isolated for 14 days in any country.
“Going on 20 days holidays and having to spend the first 15days in isolation will not worth the while.”
“Covid-19 has come to stay here with us and may end up like a way of life just like malaria, yellow fever and others in Africa. For Air Cote D’Ivoire, passengers would need about three hours to go through the check-in. Even, FAAN in a statement said passengers should expect delays at airports.
“Air Cote D’Ivoire is putting in a lot of measures to enhance safety in its operations. We will be able to return to pre-Covid-19 pandemic in the next two to three years. People are willing to travel inasmuch as the airports are safe. We are embarking on aircraft sterilisation,” he added.
On her part, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agency (NANTA), called on travel agency practitioners to equip themselves with more relevant information and charged government to release more necessary information on new procedures to the body for easy transition.
“The government should stop thinking that we as travel agents will come to ask them for money. What we need is international standards in our operations for the country. People want to travel, but are also careful about safety.”
Earlier, Director of Operations at Sabre, Mrs. Hannah Ogunsulire in her opening remarks, decried that the travel industry had been heavily impacted in recent time, while jobs are being lost regularly.
She hoped that with adherence to international standards on safety, the sector would return stronger.