As a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government closed the country’s airspace to both domestic and international commercial flights for about three months.
It reopened the airspace for commercial domestic flights on July 8, 2020, beginning with the Lagos and Abuja airports, as other airports across the country followed subsequently.
Airline operators told our correspondent on Wednesday that passenger volume dropped significantly after the airports were reopened.
They, however, stated that airlines had to sensitise travellers, as well as provide incentives by way of fare reduction in order to attract more passengers back to patronise their services.
The Communications Manager, Dana Air, Okwudili Ezenwa, explained that airlines were adopting different strategies to get passengers to start flying.
He said, “People felt that may be because of the PSC (Passenger Service Charge) and other factors, the fares would go up. But we are incentivising the fares now.
“If you look at our return tickets, you will save four times on the normal base fares that we have now. So airlines are giving discounts and we all have different ways of getting passengers to fly.”
Ezenwa observed that the loads were improving now when compared to what was recorded last week.
He noted that airlines were carrying various survey to determine the cause of apathy among passengers.
“We have done our own survey and we’ve been able to balance everything and the loads are increasing gradually,” he stated.
The Communications Manager, Arik Air, Banji Ola, also stated the airline was making its fares inexpensive for travellers.
“We are making our airfares affordable and sensitising passengers that it is now safe to fly. So our fares are being made affordable and this is an incentive on its own,” he said.
Similarly, the spokesperson for Air Peace, Stanley Olisa, told our correspondent that the carrier was encouraging people to fly through heavy sensitisation on its various media platforms.
“Telling them the measures we have put in place to guarantee passenger safety,” he stated.
Olisa said passengers were also urged to embrace online booking and check-in to minimise contact at airports.
Air Peace denies alleged strike by pilots
Meanwhile, Air Peace on Wednesday denied a report that its pilots had embarked on an industrial action to protest alleged pay cut for pilots by the carrier’s management.
It described the report as false, stressing that its pilots were working and flying planes across the country.
The airline in a statement signed by its management and made available to our correspondents by its spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, said there was no strike by Air Peace pilots.
In another development, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria on Wednesday said the Head, Department of State Services at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Safiyanu Abba, breached security procedure at the international terminal of the NAIA.
In series of tweets via its Twitter handle, FAAN said Abba deliberately obstructed airport security process and slapped an aviation security officer who was performing his duty.
However, the DSS in a statement issued by its Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, said FAAN’s allegation was false, claiming that its personnel were well mannered and could not have slapped or fought a worker of another agency.