… Massive Investment In Technology Also
As the Nigerian aviation industry continues to grapple with the ravaging effect of COVID-19 pandemic, critical stakeholders in the aviation sector have called on the Federal Government to assist airlines financially by way of making it possible for them to access zero or single digit interest loans as well as invest massively in infrastructure development, most specifically in technology to achieve the best result in the sector now and post Coronavirus.
They made the call today at a virtual online conference with the topic , “COVID – 19: The Challenges and Opportunities for Nigeria’s Aviation Value Chain During and Post COVID -19”, organized by Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), a group of aviation professionals.
Speaking, Chairman, Air Peace, Allen Onyema called on the Federal Government to intervene financially, adding that the workforce in the sector is critical to the economy.
This is just as he supported the investment in technology,
He pointed out that airlines are the worst hit, adding that the challenges have become much that apart from other means, ‘airlines are looking up to government for assistance.
According to him, “We are not asking for free money or to buy aircraft, we have to present our case. My paramount concern is the workforce, we have over 3, 000 staff, their livelihood is in danger, we need to do everything possible to protect jobs, we need money to pay salaries not buy airplanes.
He continued, “Every airline needs to think out of the box, we are rolling out some measures to encourage passengers to fly. There are so many things we cannot do on Zoom meetings, but just as we defeated 9/11 menace, we will defeat Covid-19.″
On his part, Former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr, Harold Demuren said that government should support airlines in the country and at the same time invest in infrastructure development.
“We also talk about economic stimulus, access to FOREX and sustainable interest rates,” he added .
The former NCAA boss stated that there was need for agencies and airlines to enlighten the travelling public on the need for passengers to know that when they get to the airports and onboard airplanes, they are safe.
He pointed out that the biggest competition is now comes from online meetings, adding that to make aviation attractive again, there is need to embrace technology and invest in other infrastructure that will make the sector boom again.
In his words, ‘How do we make passengers trust us again that they can fly. The biggest competition is now between online meeting and the sector. We have now see that those meetings they go for in Abuja and London can now be done online. Most business travellers go for these meetings and their companies pay for them, how do we get them back? How do we handle family vacation, I have seen online Weddings, they need to be assured of safety. Religious tourism is still with us but it may not be the same number.”
“We have seen that online can be in 3D form, the President did Federal Executive Council meeting online recently, Governors’ forum same. So we have a great challenge ahead of us, we need to improve ourselves in the sector like the banking sector has greatly improved technologically. Airlines have not improved with technology, we can’t continue on this level we are now and we are supposed to be a high-tech sector. By now, we should be able to do almost everything that has to do with a flight on our phones. We should be able to book for flights, buy tickets, process boarding g on our phones so that contact with people will be minimised, “ he added.
Accountable Manager, Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzo posited that NCAA has given out a very concise document and that airlines are ready to abide by the protocols.
Nigeria, he contended needs to look inward in terms of training, adding that Simulator training can be done locally if government equips the only training school in Nigeria with Simulator.
“We have been dependent on training abroad; may I advocate that airlines or government can get Simulator in Nigeria for themselves to reduce cost of re-currency. There must also be cooperation among airlines, mergers may not be the way forward because of different goals but in the area of Aero – politics and passenger aggregation, we have to cooperate so that customers don’t suffer. Why can’t Dana Air sell Akure ticket to passengers for other airlines, I believe we are up to the challenges. We overcame SARS and 9/11, we will overcome this”, he said .