There are indications, that air travellers would be subjected to new and stiffer conditions for flying as soon as flight operations resume.
The president and chief executive officer, Sabre Network, West Africa, Dr Gbenga Olowo yesterday confirmed the new development, saying that, there will be stiffer conditions for travelers during the post Covid-19 era.
Dr Olowo who made the disclosure in a chat with LEADERSHIP, said that, with the resumption of domestic flight operations in the next few weeks, face mask, hand-washing sanitisation will be a necessary and sufficient condition for travel.
According to Olowo, health certificate valid for at least 14 days, which will be scannable on phones, just like boarding pass should also be a necessary condition for travel to avoid isolation at the destination.
The aviation expert therefore, noted that such development is a very big challenge for port health services.
He added that, as Nigeria continues to advance in technology, the Ease of Doing Business without or limited human contact, will progress the industry further and challenge the skill set of employees.
“Training and retraining will be key. The challenge recently encountered even among technologically savvy aviation personnel while zooming for Webinars is a pointer in that direction.”
Olowo made it clear, that three weeks is good enough to do the needful by all stakeholders because they have been strategising and talking all through the lockdown.
He said “it is expected that all states should open and in deed all countries should open simultaneously, because aviation connects economies. So while we continue to battle with the virus, our economic life line must not be destroyed. The two are directly related. Just as disease can kill, hunger can also kill and even kill faster.”
Olowo stated that the airlines have been advancing in technology prior to COVID-19 on social distancing through self-service for online ticketing and payments, self-service check in, self-service security, passport controls amongst others.
He advised that Nigeria airports should urgently update its system, if these are not already in practice.
Noting that Nigeria still has tonnes of human contacts and check points at our airports, Dr Olowo stated, “Security information should be shared with immigration. For example, instead of two different people having to check the passenger passport all the time.
“Currency and agriculture information should also be shared with security while the harmonised processes are automated. He equally observed that” on board social distancing will be quite challenging except aircraft will be configured to all first class seats for economic operations.
“No airline can ever break even with less than 40 per cent load factor at the extremely low fares prevalent in the market where passengers pay less than $100 per hour on jet engines. This was the levels 30 years ago precisely 1990 Lagos-Abuja N2, 200 at exchange rate of N 22 per Dollar. The issue is whether the passengers can afford higher levels of tariff.”
This is where government intervention in airline economics, is needed in Nigeria. The intervention can be achieved by deliberate application of subsidies on fuel, taxes, airport charges, VAT, 5 per cent or lower interest rate on loans, quick forex availability, in order to lower airlines cost of operations.