The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu hinted on the reopening of airports across the country for air travellers during a webinar organized by Women in Aviation (WIA).
The aviation industry which has been hit hard with reduced revenue due to the pandemic is predicted to lead to retrenchment of workers as seen in other parts of the world. Following the announcement of FAAN to reduce the salary of its workers for the month of May, re-opening Nigerian airport amidst the rising number of coronavirus cases in the economy sounds more of boosting the industry’s declining revenue and to protect worker’s employment. As this sounds as a selfish decision to some people, it could be reasonable to an extent due to the huge loss the aviation industry is currently experiencing. The question however remains should the economy be of more priority than the health of individuals put at risk?
Considering the arrangements put in place, we can say that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had put the thoughts of the declining revenue and health of individuals into consideration. Mrs Yakubu spoke on what to expect ahead of resumption of flights. She said passengers should expect delays and long hours of checks and re-checks right from when they arrive the airport and departs.
According to her; “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 traveller 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 travellers are expected to leave home very early so that they can get to the airport on time.”
The Manager further said that social distancing will be maintained at all airports and the wearing of face masks, disinfection of shoes and luggage of passengers must be carried out irrespective of the status of the person. She also made mention of escorts to VIPs that they will not be allowed to escort their principals into the terminal. The General Manager Customer Service/SERVICOM of FAAN Mrs. Ebele Okoye further advised that passengers should 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 will also help to reduce physical contacts
The arrangements put in place could in a way answer the question if the economy has more priority than the health of individuals travelling, since the authority have proven to balance both sides with her arrangements. However, Nigerians are concerned of individuals who will fly into the country considering how the first case of the virus came in. Nigerians are also concerned as to what plans FAAN had made to the testing of passengers who will come in to the country amidst the low test kits in the country. The General Manager Corporate Affairs of FAAN did not make any mention of this during the webinar but she added that potential passengers should expect airlines to charge more in terms of airfare as the International Air Transport Association, IATA said that there would be 45 percent increase in fares.