INVESTING in and improving technology is the major way to remain relevant post Covid-19 according to players in the travel, trade and airlines sub-sector who have also called on Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to enhance technology for the new international protocols on check-in procedures for air travellers in a bid to improve the turnaround performance of airlines.
Speaking on Friday at the Sabre Africa Network Webinar conference with the theme: ‘Understanding Travel Complexities Post-Covid-19:” Views from the Stakeholders,’ panelists urged stakeholders in the travel and aviation sectors to increase their technology performance to be able to compete in the new era.
Participants at the conference said without technology and dissemination of adequate information, the recovery level of air travel in the country would be slow when compared to other countries around the world.
Country Manger, Cabo Verde Airline, Mr. Gbenga Onitilo, lamented that the advent of coronavirus had reduced capacity for airlines by over 90 per cent, while about 30 million people are directly and indirectly unemployed globally as a result of the pandemic, but noted that the crisis had compelled the need for innovation on business environments.
Onitilo explained that the global travel sector would never remain the same post-Covid-19 virus until vaccines are developed to combat the disease, regretting that the countries with the highest number of tourists like United States, United Kingdom, Italy and a few others are mostly impacted by the pandemic.
He said: “We are not going to return to pre-Covid-19 era again in the way we do our businesses. So far, we have about 600,000 deaths globally, which has brought changes in human interactions. A lot of air travellers are bothered about aviation and the possibility of contracting Covid-19 onboard aircraft.
“Everybody is now innovative about taking the business to their customers, even; the airlines are having a lot of shifts. The travel sector can never be the same again until you have the vaccines, which may come in the next 18 months. People have lost jobs and thousands of people are redundant. The protocols of airlines to ensure safety will determine the travel for the future.
“Airports will determine aircraft turnaround and not the airlines alone. We don’t know the pre-checking procedures in our airports. Dubai International Airport has embarked on automation process for air travellers, yet, we don’t have information from FAAN and NCAA.”
Also, Mr. Abiola Bakare, Sales Manager, Nigeria, Air Cote D’Ivoire in his submission expressed optimism that the travel industry would return to the pre-Covid-19 era in the next two or three years.
He said Air Cote D’Ivoire had put in measures to facilitate passengers’ check-ins at all the airports it’s operating from, including Nigeria.
“Going on 20 days holidays and having to spend the first 15 days in isolation will not worth the while,” he stated.
“Covid-19 has come to stay here with us and may end up like a way of life just like malaria, yellow fever and others in Africa. For Air Cote D’Ivoire, passengers would need about three hours to go through the check-in. Even, FAAN in a statement said passengers should expect delays at airports.
“Air Cote D’Ivoire is putting in a lot of measures to enhance safety in its operations. We will be able to return to pre-Covid-19 pandemic in the next two to three years. People are willing to travel inasmuch as the airports are safe. We are embarking on aircraft sterilisation,” he added.
On her part, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agency (NANTA), expressed optimism that the travel agencies would blossom more post-Covid-19 era as more travellers would seek more information about their travel plans and destinations.
She said: “The government should stop thinking that we as travel agents will come to ask them for money. What we need is international standards in our operations for the country. People want to travel, but are also careful about safety.
“Nigeria airports should emulate what is happening around the world. We can’t be an island. We need to be a part of global travel community. Government should carry along the travel agencies in review of procedures they are putting in place.”
Senior Vice President Sabre Network, West Africa, Mr. Allen Awosikunde, pointed out that 60 per cent of air travel would return in the nearest future, but said most of this would be business travels.
In a statement tagged: ‘We’re in this Together, Helpful Resources for the Aviation Industry,’ he said Sabre provides services to travel agencies, corporations, airlines and hotels, amongst others including:
- Travel Agencies & Corporations
According to him, Sabre is focusing on what providing the technology and resources needed to run your business while staying and playing safe.
“We have established the micro site to share helpful information and tips that you will find useful as you navigate through this fluid situation from change and refund policies for airlines – talking about Emergence policy, fare rules and condition due COVID-19, updated frequently to monitoring of notifications – manage itinerary updates and PNR Queues with Sabre Spectra.
“Travel Risk management – This will locate and communicate with travellers during travel via Safe Point as well as keeping our travelers informed – up to date itinerary details, tools and travel information via TripCase – This tool is ONLY available on Sabre.”
Mr. Faddy Bazzi, Managing Director, Bazzi Voyage, appealed to some of the employers in the sector to be cautious on laying off their workers.
He also charged African countries to increase their testing capacities to boost travel participation.
Earlier, Mrs. Hannah Ogunsulire Director of Operations at Sabre, in her opening remarks, decried that the travel industry had been heavily impacted in recent time, while jobs are being lost regularly.
She hoped that with adherence to international standards on safety, the sector would return stronger.