‘New normal’: Travellers flying high with higher fares as fresh aviation guidelines take effect

*Consumers to pay as at least N100,000 in view of 70% passenger capacity on domestic flights

*It’s economic suicide leaving middle seats vacant during flight operations unless…. ─Air Peace Chairman

* Aviation loses $200 billion in revenue to Coronavirus pandemic ─IATA

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Following months of locking down the country’s commercial aviation services upon the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Nigeria is preparing to reopen its airspace and airports, but air travellers are to experience the new realities christened the “New Normal”.

The Federal Government will also be forced to realise the need to support the indigenous airline operators, especially those undertaking international flight operations as the fares will hit the roof top, and only flag carriers of each country will, out of patriotism, consider reduced fares for the consumers of aviation services, reports Vanguard.

That is the only way passengers will enjoy reasonable fares from airlines in the impending “New Normal”.

Source says that air passengers too will no longer be able to stroll leisurely into the airports to catch their flights.

They must dash to the airports three hours before their flight departure times.

All the above issues are caused by the new preventive health measures put in place to combat the deadly convid-19 currently ravaging the world by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and each country’s Ministry of Health.

According to the report, most countries have domesticated the WHO preventive measures to suit their peculiar needs as of now.

For instance, the physical distancing measure currently being used to curtail the spread of the virus is being suggested for flight operations as well.

By implication, aircraft can no longer carry their full passenger capacity.

It has been suggested that aircraft should not carry more than seventy percent passengers capacity and middle seat between passengers should be left vacant and unoccupied during each flight operation.

Airlines might lose revenue except they increase their fares to make up for those vacant seats, stated the report.

Incidentally, it has been noted that prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, most of the Nigerian-owned airlines were not breaking even because of the high cost of flight operations.

The domestic airline operators have already given notice that fares will be increased in the new era.

Barrister Allen Onyema, Executive Chairman of Air Peace, one of the leading airlines in the country, while commenting on the protocol of leaving the middle seats vacant in a recent aviation conference, said it would be economically suicidal for airlines to leave their middle seats vacant during flight operations.

According to Air Peace Chief, this development will amount to airlines’ operating at almost half capacity with a resultant revenue loss.

Barrister Onyema said: “COVID-19 is contracted anywhere and it could be at any environment.

“We, (Air Peace) have devised a way to board and reduce contact a lot by first calling for the right window seat, and after that is done and they are settled, we can call for the middle seats then.

“After that, we can call the left window seat; then you can call in the aisle seat at the right, and then the aisle seat at the left. This will ensure interaction is minimal.

“If we leave the middle empty, then the least ticket would be N100, 000, which will not be good for airline and passengers.”

Passengers undertaking international flights will be subjected to face the ‘New Normal’. International fares will be hiked. This is because fewer airlines will commence international flight operations, said the report.

Most renowned airlines in Europe and Asia have declared losses and filed for bankruptcy in their countries.

The grounding of flight operations around the world due to the outbreak of the Corona virus affected airlines adversely.

Since January 2020, most airlines have not operated any international flight. Countries that had the initial importation of the virus into their countries after the outbreak in China immediately closed their borders, and suspended flights into their countries.

The aviation sector is the most affected by the virus, agency reports said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that the sector has lost more than 200 billion Dollars so far in revenue, and could still lose more.

Only few airlines will survive to continue post Covid-19 pandemic operations, sources said.

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