Organiser, Chinet Aviacargo Conference, Ambassador Ikechi Uko

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]requent flyers in the country are the ones worse hit when airlines and the entire airport system fails to live up to the standards of being the fastest means of transportation.

According to Ambassador Ikechi Uko, a travel enthusiast, frequent flyer and organiser, Chinet AviaCargo Conference, for the average Nigerian passenger to get to his destination on time without fear of disappointment, he or she needs to buy more than one ticket and who has those resources?

Beyond that, he said the airports were failing to make facilitation, the key subject matter of Aviation, seamless with deteriorating infrastructure: limited boarding gates, bad baggage claim and the likes which equally strains airlines too.

Uko made this known while speaking during the Panellist discussion of the 27th League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) Conference with the theme: “Aviation Industry: Changing Times, Changing Strategies.

He told the gathering,” The Nigerian passenger has not been served well as at today. If you cannot buy all those tickets and have options, you have to fly from here to Abuja and now come back to Lagos because you couldn’t get that flight connection. I don’t see any system where that will work very well. So if you are talking about changing time and changing strategies, I don’t think we have started the discussion.

“In 2004 when I started going to Ghana by Nigerian airlines, the experience I had then is probably better than what I am experiencing now as a traveller. So anything we are discussing and we are not talking about how to improve the experience of the traveller, is a complete waste, because the traveller today is not being served well. This is just what happened to me.

He narrated how his flight from Abuja was delayed thrice and eventually cancelled at midnight stating that the experience for regular flyers is quite frustrating.

“So, for those of us that travel every other day, it is a bad experience. I would like to be patriotic and support the Nigerian airline and the players but if you know what some of us have to go through, I don’t think we are having the right discussion.

On the airports he said, the airports are failing, and are not efficient enough to handle traffic.

“Most of our airports lack carrying capacity for anything less than 100, 000 passengers. I just did an analysis for Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, they had 145, 000 in 2021 and now they are maybe close to 200, 000. And you do 345 passengers a day and you are planning with the aircraft that Ibom is planning to bring. They are moving like 1000 passengers a day.

“What is the carrying capacity of the facilities at the airport? How many drivers can carry all these people? These are things you need to do and be ready to handle. Not just bring in aircraft and the aircraft will sit at the tarmac and the passengers suffer. The same thing for MM2, we are praising them now, but if the capacity of our airlines increases like what happens in December when everybody went to get an A320, I am sure we know the chaos that happened, even at MM2.

I think when we are planning, we have to scale everything from bottom to the top. I am seeing a seasonal thing, like every December, everybody goes to get a big plane and the airports are not ready.

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