Monday , 3 October 2022
Lead Consultant for ETIMFRI Group, Mr. Amos Akpan

Aug 29 Int’l flights restart: Akpan advises industry to limit recovery expectation

  • Calls for clarity, counsels on vexatious concession issues
  • Says NCAT should focus on industry’s manpower needs

FOLLOWING yesterday’s announcement of Nigeria’s reopening of two of its five international airports, Lead Consultant for ETIMFRI Group, Mr. Amos Akpan is canvassing cautious optimism especially as it regards recovery stating that the industry needs to stabilize as flights will not return to the frequency pre-covid-19

Mr. Akpan who was reacting to sundry issues in the aviation industry also called for clarity in the sensitive and vexatious issue of the ongoing concession

Akpan explained that despite the restart announcement, passengers will not be in much of a hurry to travel because of the conditions attached due to the pandemic.

He said,”Too early to discuss recovery, we should be trying to stabilize the industry. International flights have been operating in Nigeria during the lock down as evacuation flights. We should expect additional frequencies to what is ongoing. Flights will not return to the frequency it was before the shut down. Passengers will not be in a hurry to travel because conditions are not favourable due to covid-19. Airfreight (cargo) is still the booming traffic in the present circumstances,” he said.

“In the same vein, institutions that earn income from airlines’ flight operations should still expect low revenue. The management and their workforce will continue to apply austere measures, create innovations to regain customer’s confidence. This is the time to give unforgettable pleasant services like bringing water out of the rock.

On the readiness or otherwise of the flights come August 29, 2020; Mr. Akpan says that that is the prerogative of the medical experts and the presidential task force on covid-19.

“My personal opinion is that the new normal is here for some years. The sooner we are encouraged to learn to adjust to living the new normal the better for us. Anytime we are opened to living with the new normal, which is when we will start learning to adjust to live with it. All we need is information and guidance. The responsibility is ours because it is in the community spread stage, and we must be excessively inundated with this information.

Akpan on the concession said,” In this regards, the most sensitive is the ongoing discussions on concession of the four major airports now redefined as concession of terminals. We have to learn to think through what we want to do, how we will go about doing it, and the results we want to achieve.

“Simplicity and clarity is so much needed in this concession discourse. Nigeria will not be the first or the last to concession airports. Granted our situation always present complexities, we should have taken our peculiarities into consideration during the planning stage. An intending investor is not receiving encouraging signals from ongoing discussions. The way forward:  Labour leaders will sit with the minister. They will put the industry’s progress first.

“They will agree on which property, project, and territory they want to concession. For how much per year?  For how long? What status is it in now? What status will it be when it is returned? What is the protection for the investors against changes in government? What are the penalties against non compliance by the investors and by the government? Which court decides? What happens to staff that will be affected by the concession? Who implements the resolutions in the meeting? We must always be aware of how history will judge what we are doing now.”

He also decried the labour upheavals in the industry calling on them to show understanding as companies and institutions are unable to pay employees and retirees as contracted because they have not earned sufficient income to meet these obligations because of the effects of COVID-19.

He said labour unions were protecting their constituent but must avoid stopping companies from operating with labour shut downs as the situation will further depress the industry.

“This will affect both the employees and the employers. My advice is for all stakeholders to reduce the tension so that we don’t send the wrong signal to intending investors. We need investments to reboot the systems.

Speaking on NCAT and its changing status in terms of programs of study he expressed worry that the college now offers administrative and management sciences in their curriculum stating that the school was established to address the manpower needs of aviation.

“The following manpower needs in Nigeria aviation are in short supply:- Aircraft technicians/mechanics, Dispatchers, Air traffic controllers, Maintenance technicians for aeronautical infrastructures in our aerodromes, Certified regulatory inspectors, meteorological officers, skilled cargo and logistics manpower, skilled ticketing and passenger manpower, Airport operations manpower. Let us address the specific manpower needs that NCAT was created to meet before we go into courses that several colleges and universities in Nigeria are offering.

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