AM EDITORIAL: Interest Of The Travelling Public In Nigeria’s Aviation Industry
As is obtained in other climes, there are workers and leaders in Nigeria’s air transport industry who use the airports and travel by air. Their population however, is very insignificant when compared to the number of air travellers that make up the travelling public who may not have any direct leaning with the sector in terms of occupation.
For this reason, deliberations and contestations regarding the numerous challenges that the aviation industry is facing should give priority to satisfaction of the members of the travelling public.
It is true that the sector’s challenges are numerous. There is paucity of funds that makes it difficult for aviation agencies like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to upgrade airports infrastructure. This is robbing off on airline services, as airlines have to record flight delays and cancellations, disappointing the flying public and discouraging interest in travelling by air. The turnover of handling companies and other service providers are restricted by infrastructure deficit at the airports. The litany of charges paid to FAAN, eventually go on to hit the pocket of the air traveller and airport user.
Some security agencies at the airport work in silos and make passenger facilitation a slow process to the discomfort of passengers.
The price of jetA1 and the foreign exchange rate have of recent gone berserk and affected the price of airline tickets. This will very possibly, affect the volume of passenger traffic.
Even government has attested to the fact that airfares charged by foreign airlines are so high and that the Nigerian public is at a disadvantage. This has been the result of the absence or inadequacy of local airline operators on international routes.
We could go on and on, identifying challenges of unnecessary and avoidable discomfort suffered by the travelling public.
What air travellers are expected to do is to simple comply with the rules that guide air passengers. As they do this however, it is an obligation that aviation service providers and agencies live up to their responsibilities in providing everything within the law that ensures passenger comfort and customer satisfaction.
Airlines that fail to comply with passenger compensation requirements in cases of flight delays and cancellations should be sanctioned in line with the law. Physically challenged air travellers should be given special attention by airport and airline personnel to encourage more to travel by air.
It is important for all aviation stakeholders to be conscious of the fact that if flying and use of the airports are left to only aviation stakeholders, the industry will gradually cease to exist. There is therefore need for a consumer-centric sector, where aviation is seen through the eyes of those that use the services, making it safe, affordable, convenient and attractive to those outside the sector.
We are aware that the sector is not an island in the economy but has external factors of influence. Therefore, the time has come for government to declare and begin to perceive aviation services as essential infrastructure; as essential as water, electricity power, amongst others necessities.