Key players across the country’s aviation sector have expressed concerns over the unfortunate challenges brought about by the advent of COVID-19 pandemic even as they called for reduction in the number of staff on duty in order to reduce possibility of personnel contracting the pandemic at work.
In a communique issued at the end of the webinar organized by the airport journalists in Lagos with the theme: ‘Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Changing Times, Changing Strategies’, participants unanimously urged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to ensure total safety of passengers and other airport users once activities resume at the sector.
While making case for appropriate spacing at the five airports designated for flight resumption during peak period, the stakeholders lamented how security check-in at the airports were still cumbersome, advised the FAAN management to device a means of reducing contacts between its personnel and air travelers in order to minimize the risk of contacting COVID-19 virus at the airports.
Still on the need to reduce body contacts through the advantages available in technology, air travelers were encouraged to embrace technology by purchasing their tickets online as a way of reducing human contacts at the airports.
Organisations should also invest in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in order to reduce passengers’ facilitation and boarding as stated in Annex 9 of the ICAO standard and recommended practices which recommends only 30 minutes.
Also, all the different check points for passports, narcotics, currency and other profiling should be harmonised and collapsed into three at the airport while airlines and other stakeholders were told to manage uncertainties in order to stay resilient and reduce job losses.
Calling on all business owners to review their processes and operations, airlines were advised to show their level of readiness towards resumption of flight services, the government agencies were asked to test run their facilities before the airports are reopened with the ground handling companies and airlines told. Thinking out of the box, by rejigging and adjusting to the current situation is the only way to remain relevant.
Appealing to the federal Government to provide single digit loans and Forex for the domestic airlines to cushion operational cost, stakeholders at the webinar made case for palliatives or a bailout for the airlines and other organisations for the purpose of supporting staff salaries, whose means of livelihood is presently at risk.
Participants emphasised the importance of corporate governance, transparency, policy consistency and adherence to the rules of the game to make the sector more attractive to investors.
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