- Experts rub minds on way forward for travel post COVID-19
This is just as Nigeria’s aviation regulatory body, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), declared a revenue decline it has warned that many Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) holders in Nigeria may not survive post COVID-19 following the flights restriction put in place to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu who gave these grave statistics said the revenue stream of the aviation regulatory body, has shrunk by 90 per cent between January and May following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He spoke at a webinar on “the impact of COVID-19 on the Aviation Sector: The Way forward” organized by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and moderated by the immediate past President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mr. Bankole Bernard.
The DG in his presentation noted that many airlines all over the world may not survive the COVID-19 crisis as the big carriers have continued to lay off workers, saying Nigerian airlines are not insulated from the crisis.
Captain Nuhu reiterated that the loss of revenues by the Nigerian airlines following the flight suspension has put a lot of burden on the regulatory body as it is a safety issue.
“Under the Civil Aviation Regulations, one of our duties is economic regulations of the airlines, to help the airlines survive but the COVID-19 has really set us back greatly,” he said.
He emphasized that about 80 per cent of the NCAA’s revenues come from the Ticket Sale Charge and Cargo Sale Charge (TSC/CSC), disclosing that between January till date, the revenue of the NCAA dropped by 90 per cent.
The DG however disclosed that the Federal Government is committed to assist the airlines in their recovery plan, saying the Minister; Senator Hadi Sirika had directed the authority to come up with measures to assist the airlines.
He said: “It is a huge problem for us as a regulatory body but we can get out of this working together. The regulator, service providers, must work together because if we don’t do that, it would be a total disaster.
“Many AOC holders may not survive this and this has potential of creating social crisis because a lot of jobs may be lost.”
CEO of Aero Contractors expressed confidence that though recovery globally may take the next three to four years, aviation especially the airline industry will still survive as it remains the best and safest means of transportation particularly in Nigeria where other means of transportation are comatose.
Capt. Sanusi noted that physical distancing in an aircraft might not be realistic, saying, “We only need to make the passengers comfortable.”
Dr. Gbenga Olowo said the COVID-19 crisis has further highlighted the need for airlines to tinker with their business model and diversify.
He recalled that airlines in the 70s and 80s got the business model right by delving into Hotel business, cargo business, and establishing farm where they produced all the food items needed on board.
He said since the COVID-19 pandemic started and the subsequent travel restrictions, the number of bookings by travel agencies dropped by 353,000 in March compared to March 2019.
“In April, it collapsed by another 17 per cent. How do we continue with these negative losses? We need to revisit our business model,” he said.
The MD of Business Travel Management Lola Adefope in her presentation said the challenge created by the COVID-19 crisis lies in the lower volume of travels both at the leisure and business sides.
She said: “We need to work together both as airline and travel agencies to rebuild travel confidence. Certainly we may not see the rate of volume of business travel into city hubs where for instance you hold meeting in London, have dinner in Paris and so on. People will be more circumspect about where they travel to and whether it is necessary.”