Airline operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria have said flight delays and cancellations may occur during the Yuletide celebration if nothing is done to address the infrastructural deficit, especially at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
Speaking at a book launch: ‘Air Transportation In Nigeria: The Lingering Expectations,’ held at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Annex, the Chairman of the AON, Allen Onyema called for disparities to be addressed as they add to the causes of delays.
Onyema said that even in the case of international operations, Nigerian airlines are left with just three counters to work from while an expanse of space is given to foreign airlines, describing it as a disservice to Nigerians who are trying to get it right under harsh environment.
He noted that the issue of delays was not solely airlines’ responsibility as those supposed to provide infrastructure and support to the airlines were busy de-marketing them.
Onyema said, “In aviation, there is no half and half, we are prepared. Yuletide season or not, we are prepared but we need to have the infrastructure to make it happen. In a situation where that is lacking then there are going to be problems.
“Airlines are prepared, they have the means. Most airlines are using two planes and the NCAA is alive to its duties of regulating us properly, safety is assured that I can tell you. The issue of seamless operations is out of our hands. The airport authority must have some questions to answer too.”
On what airlines had done to alert the authorities to this anomaly, he added, “We have written to FAAN; in fact, the AON has written to the ministry and FAAN on the issue of the Abuja check-in terminal. It is crazy out there, nine or ten airlines in one small space, it is not encouraging.
“However, a few days ago, the MD of FAAN spoke to me and said they were going to do something about it. What we are asking for is expansion. The old international terminal (Abuja) is lying fallow.
“Airlines, some of us should go there so we have enough counters for check-in. Not when they give you two counters and you’re checking in thousands of people, delays will surely come, and I tell the flying public to stop blaming the airlines for delays.
“10 airlines in one cubicle in Abuja is unacceptable, cramping the airlines without facilities. The airlines are not responsible for all the delays on routes flown.”
Article first published on the Punch Website