Aviation stakeholders, including airline operators, industry regulators, service providers and others have concluded, that one way to move forward in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is to utilise modern technology, in such a way that minimal contacts would be made possible.
The experts made the recommendation when they brainstormed virtually at a webinar organised by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) with the title “Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Changing Times, Changing Strategies”.
At the webinar, they discussed the way forward for the sector, following the numerous changes that must have to take place in the post-COVID-19 new normal era especially with regards to safety and protection of passengers as the sub-sector is set to restart.
At the end of the discourse held recently, most of the participants canvassed technology as a major solution to unburden the system and aid in reducing physical contact to the barest minimum.
Dr. Gabriel Olowo, President of Sabre Network West Africa, while speaking at the webinar, said that check-in would pose a serious challenge, asking how ready the industry was to do business with minimal contact.
A former Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, advised the industry stakeholders to take advantage of the present disadvantage and automate properly as this will help reduce contact.
He said, “You can do every ticket purchase, every check-in, even choose a seat via your laptop. You as journalists can help us advocate this. You cannot process 1, 000 people one by one and you should not have to, so the industry needs automation”.
“Airport infrastructure also needs to improve,” he canvassed.
Also speaking on the airline’s response to facilitation and safety during restart, Chairman of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema, said although still in discussion, airlines do not support the middle seat removal and have all devised ways to ensure limited contact during boarding as well as safeguard passengers.
According to Onyema, apart from the constant disinfection of aircraft, passengers are not likely to contract any virus on board the aircraft but could do so around the airport or any other environment before even getting to the boarding point.