Post-Covid-19: ‘Investment in technology key to travel, airline recovery’

 

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) have  been called upon 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.

This is just as key players in the travel, trade and airlines sub-sector have been charged to improve on technology deliveries in order to remain relevant post Covid-19 era.

Speaking at the Sabre Africa Network Webinar conference in Lagos last weekend, with the theme: ‘Understanding Travel Complexities Post-Covid-19:”, key players with 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, that the recovery level of air travel in the country would be slow when compared to other countries around the world.

Speaking, the Country Manager, 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.

His words: “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

“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.”

For the Sales Manager, Nigeria, Air Cote D’Ivoire, Mr. Abiola Bakare, in his submission, he expressed optimism that the travel industry would return to the pre-Covid-19 era in the next two or three years.

According to him, Air Cote D’Ivoire had put in measures to facilitate passengers’ check-ins at all the airports it’s operating from, including Nigeria even as he re-emphasized  that the advent of the pandemic would put a change to air travel businesses while  noting that air travelers would only patronize the sector when they are sure of total safety.

Calling for harmonised health certificate for all travelers worldwide while saying that people would not travel if they would be isolated for 14 days in any country, Bakare declared: “Going on 20 days holidays and having to spend the first 15days in isolation will not worth the while. 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.barking on aircraft sterilization.”

On her part, President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agency (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye 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 called on travel agency practitioners to equip themselves with more relevant information and charged government to release more necessary information on new procedures to the body for easy transition.

“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”,  Akporiaye added.

Equally, the Managing Director, Bazzi Voyage, Mr. Daddy Bazzi appealed to some of the employers in the sector to be cautious on laying off their workers just as he charged African countries to increase their testing capacities to boost travel participation.

The Senior Vice President Sabre Network, West Africa, Mr Allen Awosikunde, in his address on ‘We’re in this Together, Helpful Resources for the Aviation Industry’,

pointed out that 60 per cent of air travel would return in the nearest future, but said most of this would be business travels.

 

 

 

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