Flight delays and probably cancellations may be a topic for discussion this yuletide if nothing is done about the apparent infrastructure deficit, case in point: lack of counters for domestic airlines to check in passengers especially at the Abuja Airport.
Airlines have decried the evident lack of counters to check in thousands of passengers for multiple flights stating that at the Abuja domestic terminal, ten airlines are cramped into one small space to execute their flights to various parts of the country.
Most airlines have brought in new aircraft from two to ten to augment their operations during the yuletide but the challenge is beyond fleet size especially if facilitation is slowed as a result of lack of capacity of the airport to handle flights from Abuja to destinations like Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano, Uyo, Asaba etc, all at once.
Speaking at a book launch: ‘Air Transportation In Nigeria: The Lingering Expectations,’ held at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Annex Chairman of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema called for some disparities to be addressed as they add to the causes of delays.
Onyema said that even in international operations, Nigerian airlines are left with three counters to operate from while an expanse of space is given to foreign airlines describing it as a disservice to Nigerians who are trying to get it right under harsh environment.
He noted that the issue of delays are not solely airlines’ responsibilities as those supposed to provide infrastructure and support the airlines are busy demarketing Nigerian airlines and saying they are weak.
On the sidelines, Onyema said government needed to do something about the infrastructure especially on the Abuja Airport because it makes them( airlines) delay,”Aviation there is no half and half, we are prepared. Yuletide season, no yuletide season we are prepared but we need to have infrastructure to make it happen. A situation where that is lacking then there is going to be problems.
“Airlines are prepared, they have the means, most airlines are using two planes and the NCAA is alive to its duties of regulating us properly, safety is assured that I can tell you. The issue of seamless operations is out of our hands. The airport authority must have some questions to answer too.
On what airlines have done to alert the authorities to this anomaly Onyema said,”We have written to FAAN, in fact the AON has written to the Ministry and have written to FAAN on the issue of the Abuja check in terminal it’s crazy out there, nine or ten airlines in one small space, it is not encouraging.
“However, a few days ago, the MD of FAAN spoke to me and said they were going to do something about it. What we are asking for is expansion. The old international terminal ( Abuja) is lying fallow. Airlines, some of us should go there so we have enough counters for check in. Not when they give you two counters and you’re checking in thousands of people, delays will surely come and I tell the flying public to stop blaming the airlines for delays.”
He said,” ten (10) airlines in one cubicle in Abuja is unacceptable, cramping the airlines without facilities. The airlines are not responsible for all the delays on routes flown.
Recall, there were alleged plans to reserve the old international Airport terminal in Abuja for the proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air, currently mired in controversy and awaiting its day in court while domestic airlines already operating were finding it difficult to handle their growing passengers in the constricted space allocated to them.