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    Airlines Call for Upgrade of Airport Infrastructure to Curb Flight Delays

    20 Dec 2022

    Domestic carriers have called for the upgrade and expansion of airport infrastructure, attributing most of flight delays to inadequate facilities like limited spaces at the airport terminals, inadequate x-ray machines and attendant personnel that man passenger facilitation at the airports.

    Speaking on behalf of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) at the launch of the book, “Air Transportation In Nigeria: The Lingering Expectations,” the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema said that as the festive season approaches, influx of passengers would likely outstretch facilities at airports, especially Abuja where only a few check-in counters are available in a small hall for processing hundreds of passengers.

    He said such situation naturally causes delays, as passengers who interface with airlines do not know the root cause of the delays, which begins with capacity of check-in halls, the number of check-in counters, the delay in the screening of passengers and also the capacity of departure halls.

    While exonerating airlines over flight delays, Onyema said 95 percent of the circumstances that usually lead to delays is beyond passengers’ and airlines’ control.

    ”Airlines are prepared, they have the means, we also know the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is alive to its duties of regulation, safety is assured but in other areas, the airport authority has some questions to answer, ”Onyema said.

    Speaking particularly on Abuja and Gombe airports, he said it is unimaginable for about 10 airlines’ passengers to occupy a small space with only four check-in counters, adding that rather than for authorities to rally round and support them, they prefer to de-market them.

    ”Nigerian airline operators are the most patriotic citizens of Nigeria because of the environment. People blame us for late departures but airlines are not responsible for delays, passengers need to know the truth but those are supposed to protect us are de-marketing us.

    “AON has written to the Ministry and FAAN on the issue of Abuja check-in counters. It is crazy, nine or 10 airlines in a very small space is not encouraging, but a few days ago, the Managing Director of FAAN spoke to me that they are going to do something about it, what we are asking for is expansion, the old international terminal is lying fallow, some airlines can be asked to move there to create more room for us, a situation where we are given few counters and we have thousands of people checking in will cause delay.

    “I have said it that passengers should stop blaming airlines for delays, they should look at the main cause, no airline plans to delay flights deliberately. Although, this government has done a lot for aviation, the Minister and the President have done a lot, a very passionate man, we need to do something about infrastructure especially at the Abuja airport, it is causing delays for airlines because once you take off from Lagos, you must experience delays in Abuja because of the check-in difficulties, there is no conveyor belts.

    ”Gombe is one place we like flying to. The governor has been very supportive, Air Peace loves the place but their safety is important. The problem is not insurmountable, we made the report about the faulty scanners but I think they are doing something about it, I am sure all the authorities have been informed about it”, he added.

    Meanwhile, stakeholders in the sector have honoured and praised the authors of the book, which captures all segments of the industry in the country.

    Present at the occasion were the Chairman of Arik Air, Sir Arumemi Ikhide; former Managing director Arik Air, Chris Ndulue; Dr. Alex Nwuba, Mr. Richard Aisubeogun, former and current country managers of British Airways, Mr. Kola Olayinka and Mrs. Adetutu Otuyalo; Mr. Abayomi Agoro, president, Nigeria Air Traffic Controllers Association; former and current editors of Newspapers, Mr. Rotimi Durojaiye; Mr. Don Okere, among others.

    Industry stakeholders who graced the occasion spoke about the authors’ hard work and attention to details, saying some of the topics treated were challenges that have bedeviled the sector over the years without being tackled.

    Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, represented by Director of Aerodrome Airspace Standard, Tayyib Odunowo , attested to the fact that that issues such as forex , Jet fuel were lingering challenges that affected the sector.

    Onyema, who was the chief launcher, remarked that the book would serve as reference for Nigerians interested in the aviation sector.

    According to him, policy somersault, owner/ manager syndrome in airline business and lack of corporate governance are areas that have been well dissected in the book.

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