Stakeholders in the Aviation Industry via a recent webinar have considered various ways to achieve economic viability while maintaining and sustaining safety in the new normal occasioned by the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The webinar organised by Aviation journalists themed ‘Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Changing Times, Changing Strategies,’ had a six-man panel including Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Engr. Akin Olateru, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, and Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu.
Also on the panel were Group Managing Director, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), Mrs. Olatokunbo Fagbemi, Chairman, Air Peace Limited, Barrister Allen Onyema and President, Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr. Gabriel Olowo.
The panelists and other discussants registered their concerns on the unfortunate challenges brought about by the advent of Covid-19 pandemic.
The panelists and participants at the end of the webinar that lasted for about three hours resolved that::-
– FAAN and NCAA should ensure total safety of passengers and airport users once the industry is re-opened.
– FAAN and NCAA were advised to ensure appropriate spacing at airports for passengers and other users, especially during peak period.
– FAAN should extend airport operational hours for airlines to take advantage of it and maximise their earnings.
– FAAN should install toilet facilities that are sensors compliant to reduce touching of taps by users.
– Air travellers were encouraged to embrace technology by procuring their tickets online to reduce human contacts at airports.
– Security check-in is still very cumbersome at the airports; FAAN management was told to device a means of reducing contacts between its personnel and air travellers in order to minimsie the risk of contracting Covid-19 virus at the airport.
– All the different check points – for passport, narcotics, currency and others should be harmonised and collapsed into three at an airport.
– Airlines should also show their level of readiness towards resumption of flight services.
– Government agencies and airlines were advised to test run their facilities before the airports are reopened.
– Stakeholders especially government agencies, ground handlers and airlines should think out of the box, rejig and adjust with the current situation so as to remain relevant.
– They stressed the need for every business to review its processes and operations., whereas Organisations should invest in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in order to reduce passenger facilitation and boarding. Annex 9 of the ICAO standard and recommended practices recommends only 30 minutes.
They agreed that agencies like FAAN, NCAA, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and others should start to think of how they can support businesses so that they can become stabilised in post Covid-19 era.
– Bailout for organisations in the industry; airlines, agencies, ground handlers and catering is required to kick-start businesses in the sector.
– Organisations in the sector should synergise to fight the pandemic in our Country.
– The Nigeria Aviation Industry needs flexible slot system in order to accommodate the interest of every stakeholder.
– Airlines and other stakeholders should manage uncertainties in order to stay resilient and reduce job losses.
– Indigenous airlines should take advantage of domestic cargo in order to recoup losses.
– There should be deliberate efforts aimed at increasing the Nation’s exports by air especially in agriculture, not just in oil and gas.
– There is need to reduce the number of staff on duty in order to reduce possibility of personnel contracting Covid-19 at work.
– Airlines should embrace codeshare, ticket transfer, interlining and local BSP.
– Federal Government should provide single digit loans and Forex for our airlines to cushion operational cost.
-Palliatives or bailout for airlines and other organisations should be to support staff salaries, whose means of livelihood is presently at risk.
– Civil servants in the system should encourage business growth and consider investors as partners in progress.
– Plan to leave the middle seats empty will not encourage business growth, will encourage rise in the price of air tickets and reduce potential air travellers.
– Nigeria Aviation Industry should be made attractive to investors. There is need to institutionalise corporate governance, transparency, policy consistency and adherence to the rule of law.
Photo:- Aviation Minister, Sirika Hadi xxxxxxxxxxxx