Top industry players were on hand to act as panelists in a robust discussion about the impact of the dreaded pandemic and what needs to be done to ensure the industry and its allied sectors, which are the worst hit do not collapse under the strain of total lockdown and grounding of flights.
Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Engr. Akin Olateru, Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN); Mrs. Olatokunbo Fagbemi, Group Managing Director, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), Bar. Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace as well as Dr. Gabriel Olowo, President, Aviation Round Table (ART) who shared their ideas on the perfect restart with hundreds of participants.
The panelists and other discussants registered their concerns on the unfortunate challenges brought about by the advent of Covid-19 pandemic. At the end of the over two hours discussion, panelists and participants submitted that:
- FAAN and NCAA should ensure total safety of passengers and airport users once the industry is re-opened
- Air travellers were encouraged embrace technology by procuring their tickets online to reduce human contacts at airports.
- NCAA and FAAN were advised to ensure appropriate spacing at airports for passengers and other users, especially during peak period.
- Security check-ins are still very cumbersome at the airports. FAAN management was told to device a mean of reducing contacts between its personnel and air travellers in order to minimize the risk of contacting Covid-19 virus at the airport
- All the different check points – for passport, narcotics, currency and others should be harmonized 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 re-jig and adjust with the current situation so as to remain relevant
- There is need for every business to review its processes and operations
- Organizations 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.
- The agencies; FAAN, NCAA, NAMA, NCAT and others should start to think of how they can support businesses so that they can become stabilized post Covid-19 era
- Bailout for organizations in the industry i.e. airlines, agencies, ground handlers, catering is required to kick-start businesses in the sector
- Organizations in the sector should synergize 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 code share, ticket transfer, interlining, 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 organizations 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
The gathering also agreed that FAAN should extend airport operational hours for airlines to take advantage of it and maximize their earnings and that the Nigeria aviation industry should be made attractive to investors as there is need to institutionalize corporate governance, transparency, policy consistency and adherence to the rule of law among other things.