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.
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.
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.