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COVID-19: ART says planned middle seat elimination not viable for airlines

Aviation Round Table Safety Initiative (ART) has said the planned elimination of middle seats on airplanes could worsen cost implications for airlines and will not achieve the social distancing objectives and commended gradual re-opening of the nation’s airports with four to five airports.
This is just as the group has called on government to provide stimulus for airlines fashioned towards enabling them save jobs of their teeming workers while also calling on airlines to eschew ego, embrace collaboration and corporate governance to improve their survival ratio.
This is part of resolutions in the think tank’s 17-point communiqué released after its Webinar: The Challenges and Opportunities for Nigeria’s Aviation Value Chain during the Post-Covid19.
The communiqué issued by Olumide Ohunayo read,” The elimination of middle seats on airplanes could worsen cost implications for airlines and will not achieve the social distancing objectives that informed such move, rather emphasis should be placed on the implementing of the health safety guidelines highlighted by Operators, FAAN and the NCAA
“The WEBINAR welcomed a gradual re-opening of the nation’s airports beginning with four to five airports in the coming weeks, taking cognizance of strict compliance with health& safety guidelines while urging FAAN to address the rowdiness in and around the airport premises as part of its guidelines.
The group also pointed out that the COVID-19 has exposed the lack of capital retention by businesses not just aviation in case something unprecedented like the COVID-19 happens calling on airlines to think outside the box and collaborate to grow dropping ego.
The communiqué read,”COVID-19 has exposed the lack of capital retention by businesses to observe resilient contingency planning. Airlines should not depend solely on government bailout packages but should look inwards, work together, thinking outside the box and observe good corporate governance practices. Airlines should review their current business models and evolve measures that could help them cushion the effects of COVID-19.”
“Overlapping interest means opportunity for partnership and collaboration, Aviation stakeholders need to trust, drop ego, and self interest. Consequently, airlines were advised to develop business restart plans that incorporate healthy relationship among all stakeholders in the value chain.”
The group asked government to step in with some much needed intervention geared towards stemming job loss and encouraged that the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in new ways of doing things stating that like other setbacks of the past, the industry shall overcome the challenges.
It stated,” In order to be victorious , there is a need for government to provide a stimulus package for the entire aviation industry to include single-digit interest loans, bank guarantees, taxes, charge and import duty waivers while also introducing subsidized cost of aviation fuel – a major cost component. The government through the Ministry of Aviation should also consider introducing a travel insurance policy to spread aviation risks beyond the industry.
“We further recommend that the anticipated government’s stimulus package should have as a deliberate policy guideline, the protection from job loss attributable to the Covid19 pandemic for compliance by all operators in the Nigerian Aviation Industry.
ARTSI also charged Nigerian government and aviation authorities to protect Nigeria’s investments, airlines and commonwealth through policies and a review of skewed Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) to conform the prevailing global aero politics.
The meeting also applauded the plans by the NCAA and other agencies to begin the process of automation of their operations to reduce human-to-human contacts and physical presence at their offices by service consumers; but stressed however that an integrated Aviation unified shared service digital infrastructure should be adopted as a cost efficient measure
It called on the FAAN to review some charges and the payment of 5% fees of total revenue by handling companies while the handling companies were encouraged to work together using the platform of Ground Handling Association to mitigate corporate threats.

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