By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has said airline operators may increase fares by 45 percent once the aviation sector kick-starts operations.
The sector has been under ‘lockdown’ following the closure of the airspace by the federal government for over a month. The airports are expected to be reopened on June 7 if the coast is clear.
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, speaking at an aviation webinar organized by Women in Aviation (WIA) Nigeria with the theme Aviation: The New Norm in the post COVID-19, said that air passengers should also expect delays and long hours of checks and re-checks right from when they arrive at airport .
“Passengers should expect that airlines will charge more in terms of airfare, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that there would be 45 percent increase in fares,” Mrs Yakubu said.
She, however, assured that arrangements were in the works towards the reopening of the nation’s airports soon.
Mrs Yakubu also said escorts of VIPs would no longer be allowed to follow their principals into the terminal and that such principals would be subjected to all health checks.
“Passengers are expected to leave their home early hours before their flights to go through the various checks before entering the terminal and after.
“We are going to expect flight delays, flights will experience delays from checks and re-checks. If you are travelling, I will expect a potential traveler to leave home hours before his flight.
“Why do I say this? – Because there is going to be a lot of checks in the front of the terminal we have been told that some may activities and procedures will take place in front of the terminal.
“So air travelers are expected to leave home very early so that they can get to the airport on time,” she said.
According to Mrs Yakubu, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes to air travel and to ensure the safety of passengers and airport users, the way of doing things before has to change.
The pandemic will make people cut down on non-essentials and lead to low demand of air travel, she said.
Mrs Yakubu restated that social distancing would be observed at all the airports as well as temperature screening, wearing of face masks, disinfection of shoes and luggage of passengers regardless of personalities.
She said: “There will be floor markings indicating where each passenger will wait on the queue, arriving passengers will also be subjected to temperature screening, physical distancing too will be observed while passengers are waiting by the carousel to pick up their luggage.
“Passengers are expected to arrive the airport with their face masks on, their luggage and pairs of shoes to be disinfected.
“Passengers are expected to observe to observe social/physical distancing.
“Passengers will subject themselves to temperature screening and departure halls will be arranged in such a way that physical distancing too will be observed.”
The General Manager Customer Service/SERVICOM of FAAN, Mrs Ebele Okoye, said there will be a cut down on louts and loiters at the terminal building and outside, saying with COVID-19 fears, there would be no room for them.
In reducing contact, the days of opening people’s bag at the airport to search what is inside should be done away with. “I will urge all the airports to consider and make provision for different kinds of passengers, social distancing, adequate information and security and more importantly, social security.”
Mrs Okoye then advised passengers to buy their tickets online, check in online and pay for their trolleys online to reduce the hours they would have to spend carrying out these activities and also save themselves the trouble of coming to the airport to buy tickets.
The webinar was moderated by the WIA President, Mrs Rejoice Ndudinachi, and featured the Airport Manager South West Airports/Airport Manager, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos, Mrs Victoria Shin-Aba, former Rector, Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, Zaria and other women professionals in the industry.
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