As nations across the globe are gradually relaxing lockdown measures put in place to check the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, air travel is expected to resume soon.
Ahead of the resumption, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the service organization statutorily charged to manage all Commercial Airports in the country and provide service to both passenger and cargo airlines has stated that it has put arrangements in place regarding passenger facilitation and what to expects.
Speaking at an aviation webinar organized by Women in Aviation, WIA, Nigeria, with the theme: Aviation: The New Norm in the post COVID, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu says passengers should expect delays and long hours of checks and re-checks right from when they arrive the airport and departs.
She said escorts of VIPs would no longer be allowed to follow their principals into the terminal and such principals would be subjected to all its health checks.
To this end, she said passengers are expected to leave their home early hours before their flight 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.”
The FAAN spokesperson also explained that passengers should expect that airlines would charge more in terms of airfare, adding the International Air Transport Association, IATA said that there would be 45 percent increase in fares.
Yakubu stated that the COVID-19 had brought a lot of changes to air travel and to ensure the safety of passengers and airport users the way of doing things before have to change, adding that the pandemic would make people cut down on non-essentials and lead to low demand of air travel.
At all airports, She said social distancing would be 100%, temperature screening, wearing of face masks, disinfection of shoes and luggage of passengers would also be carried out 100% regardless of personalities.
“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,” she added.
In her contribution, Mrs. Ebele Okoye, General Manager Customer Service/SERVICOM, FAAN, harped on the decongestion of the terminal building especially outside where all sorts of people who do not have business at the airport mill around.
According to her, 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.
Okoye urged passengers to save themselves the stress of coming to the airport to buy tickets rather they 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.
“Social security can be done, online ticket purchase am sure that the airline will notify the people who purchase their ticket online to check in online and decongest the terminal building, no hangers around, touts should be out of the airport, anyone not travelling should not be allowed to enter the airport, how do passengers get their trolley, they can pay online, you don’t need contacts.”
The webinar moderated by the WIA President, Mrs Rejoice Ndudinachi 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 top women professionals in the industry.