Air travel at this yuletide period especially on the domestic route is challenging for both airlines and passengers.
Unprepared for the upsurge in traffic, managers of privately and government-operated terminals are in a dilemma as baggage and passengers processing equipment are grossly inadequate to meet passengers’ demand.
Air passenger traffic is overstretching the facilities at airport terminals across the country especially at Lagos and Abuja airports.
Aircraft parking spaces have become inadequate and the conveyor belts are being overworked.
For many days now, technical personnel at these terminals are on standby to fix the baggage belts when they stop working due to the consistent processing of passengers’ baggage and this had led to flight delays.
A spokesman for one of the airlines, Mr Kingsley Ezemwan says, it is a herculean task to process passengers on time because of these issues.
“Conveyor belts issues at the airports, we are hoping it does not get any worse than this”.
Managers of the General Aviation Terminal One and Two in Lagos, Mr Adekunle Aderibigbe and Raphael Uchegbu say, adequate preparations have been made to ensure hitch-free facilitation and ensuring that recent challenges were being addressed.
“Our MD just gave us two screening machines so that we can facilitate passenger movement. We purchased 6 brand new X-ray machines to prepare for this year, two large big ones are on the ground floor and they are all working and active”.
The upsurge in passenger traffic this period has not been seen like this for decades and this has been attributed to the insecurity on the roads.
Airport Manager, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mr. Mahmoud Sani says, the upsurge in traffic had overwhelmed the processing facilities.
“Of late, we have recorded the highest domestic passenger in Nigeria, at Abuja airport now, the operation is very challenging virtually everybody in Nigeria now wants to go by air”.
His counterpart in Lagos, Mrs Victoria Shinaba says as regards international travel, the traffic was also building up but not like the domestic travel, stressing that their major headache was dealing with some international passengers who come with positive Covid-19 PCR test results insisting to travel.
“Even people with positive Covid test, they still come to the airport to come and board but definitely they are not allowed”.
While these problems are responsible for the late take-off of passengers, the bigger problem at this time is whether poor visibility is forecast across aerodromes by the NiMET at certain times of the day.
For scheduling of flights, the Director-General, NiMET, Prof Mansur Matazu urged airlines and pilots to get a proper briefing from their offices at airports.
“We always encourage pilots and crew members should always come for briefing even though we provide some of these services via email”.
The Director-General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu says, sanction awaits airlines that flout their requirements regarding weather and flight during this period.
He said passengers should expect delays and cancelations due to inclement weather.
“There are obviously going to be delayed, there are going to be cancelations if the weather goes beyond safety limits”.
While the problems of the baggage system may persist till the end of the Yuletide, the airport managers have assured passengers security at this period and beyond.
Reporting by Nosa Aituamen; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino