Mshelia Proposes Quick Fix Measure On Passenger Processing Delays

Mshelia Proposes Quick Fix Measure On Passenger Processing Delays

The Chairman of West-Link Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia has proposed quick-fix measures that could help to minimize delays in passenger processing at Abuja Airport and some other Nigerian airports.
“The quick fix is this. I know there are spaces in Abuja that are not being used. Open it up to the domestic airlines; like the old international airport terminal, it is not being used properly. So, why don’t you open all of it? That would solve the problems,” he said.
He equally suggested opening “up all the airport to midnight. If you do so, the airlines on their own will naturally adjust their schedules and give space. It would naturally mitigate this without doing anything to the current infrastructure. If you open the airport to close at midnight, you have solved a lot of the problems already and in Abuja, open up the old international terminal that is not being used,” he said, explaining that this will be a quick fix measure for a situation where “Abuja bound traffic is checking in. Warri bound traffic is checking in with others checking in this same Abuja and this same Lagos.”
He further said: “Check-in counters are part of suitable accommodation to process passengers. So, a terminal building should be spacious enough to take the number of intending passengers. Every operator writes to the authorities and tell them: ‘We intend to begin operating at a particular time.’ The airport authority is supposed to acknowledge that including issuing a base. Now, I think over the years, what we’ve done is that we just kept taking in the airlines and we don’t do the infrastructure expansion. For example, Arik, Air Peace Ibom Air, Aero, Dana; these are five airlines’ alone. By the time they schedule 7 o’clock departure and all of them schedule 7o’ clock departure, how many of them can you check-in?. Averagely, let’s say the passengers on these aeroplanes will be between 120-170 depending on the aircraft. If you are going to do 120 by five airlines, they need to check them in ( I’m just giving you a typical example). That would be 600 passengers. That will take you quite some time to check in because of the space and infrastructural deficit. It takes up to five minutes to check in one passenger. It does. So, even if you say, two minutes to check in a passenger, how many counters would you need to be able to check in those people within the two hour rate that they give? They give you two hours to check in passengers. So, you will need 300 check-in counters if you’re going to use two minutes per passenger. If you have no space, then you have congestion and then you have chaos and then you have commotion at the end. So, passenger delay, sorting their baggage, access to the tarmac, moving the bags, number of vehicles that can do it and so on. See, there are so many things that are combined. There is infrastructure but the capacity of airlines have overwhelmed it and one wonders why all these years, nothing was done to expand it until only recently that they are doing some expansion.”
Mshelia blamed corruption for some of the infrastructure related challenges at the airports.
“To begin with, conveyor belt breaking down once in a year is acceptable. However, I do not see a reason why a conveyor belt will break down in the first place, or why screening machines should break down in the first place. It means the people who are manning it are either nonchalant or incompetent. Particularly, for me, I am a pilot and I’ve visited a lot of countries inside the region and beyond, I’ve never heard of these equipment breaking down. I’ve never heard it anywhere except Nigeria because we do not allow our best hands to run our affairs. The thing is supposed to be serviced every two minutes. For example, money is voted. If you go to the books, it’s voted but if you go to the people managing the conveyor belt. They would tell you they have not serviced it in the last 20 years. So, where is the money going to? Corruption is killing the infrastructure at the airports. It is lack of attention due to corruption because every machine being designed has its own servicing procedures and age. This is an airport we are talking about and everything is done for safety and timing. We should endeavour to do things properly and this problem will go away. Conveyor belts will not break down and if it does, it’s once in a blue moon. It’s acceptable. But the rate at which I hear conveyor belt breaking down and I look at the obsolete things we have in the airport, why can’t we upgrade then when we should upgrade them? So it is still about our intention to do the right things or not.”

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Albinus Chiedu

Albinus Chiedu is a journalist, aviation media consultant, events management professional, and author. He has practiced journalism since 2000.

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