By ADEKUNLE WILLIAMS and OLADELE ENIOLA
IKEJA- The Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) has urged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to increase the number of check-in counters to reduce flight delayed experienced by passengers at the airports.
The Vice President of the association, Chief Allen Onyema made this known at a book launch: ‘Air Transportation In Nigeria: The Lingering Expectations,’ in Lagos on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two veteran aviation journalists, Olusegun Koiki and Chinedu Eze are the two authors to the book on air transportation in Nigeria.
Onyema, who is also the Air Peace Chairman, said airlines were experiencing inadequate counters to check-in thousands of passengers especially during the yuletide period where there would be increase in passengers traffic.
The vice president decried that ten airlines were cramped into one small space to execute their flights service to different parts of the country.
He said: “Flight delays and probably cancellations may be a topic for discussion this yuletide if nothing is done about the current inadequate counters for domestic airlines to check-in passengers especially at the Abuja Airport.
“Most airlines have brought in new aircraft from two to ten to augment their operations during the yuletide but the challenge is beyond fleet size.
“This is especially if facilitation is slowed as a result of lack of capacity of the airport to handle flights from Abuja to destinations like Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano, Uyo, Asaba etc, all at once.
“Even in international operations, domestic airlines are left with three counters to operate.
“However, an expanse of space is given to foreign airlines which is a disservice to Nigerians who are trying to get it right under harsh environment.”
Onyema noted that the issue of delays were not solely airlines’ responsibilities as those supposed to provide infrastructure and support the airlines were not given Nigerian airlines adequate infrastructure to support their business.
The vice president said he had written to FAAN, the Ministry of Aviation on the issue of the Abuja check-in counters, saying that it was not encouraging for nine or ten airlines to be assigned in one small space.
He said: “However, a few days ago, the Managing Director of FAAN spoke to me on phone and assured me they are going to do something about it.
“What we are asking for is expansion. The old international terminal (Abuja) is lying fallow, if some of us (airlines) should go there, we will have enough counters for check in.
“Not when they give you two counters and you are checking in thousands of people, delays will surely come and I tell the flying public to stop blaming the airlines for delays.”
NAN recalls that there are plans to reserve the old international Airport terminal in Abuja for the proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air, currently mired in controversy and awaiting its day in court.
However, domestic airlines already operating are still finding it difficult to handle their growing passengers in the constricted space allocated to them.
Earlier in his welcome address, Koiki, who is the Chairman of Association of League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) said the book focused on several burning issues and topics in the sector.
He said the book also x-rayed the aviation industry, its history, milestones and critically reviewed policies, regulations and actions taken by government and its agencies in the sector over the years.
NAN reports that Onyema, who is the Chairman of the occasion while unveiling the book donated the sum of N10 million. (NAN)