Major ground handling companies in Nigeria are facing a revenue crisis following published results in the first nine months of 2020. Reports from two of the major listed ground handling companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, reveals a revenue decline of over 20%, due to a fall out of the COVID-19 induced lockdowns and travel restrictions.
The state of their financials led some of them to consider job cuts, and cost reduction measures in a bid to survive even after the lockdown was eased.
Since the breakout of COVID-19 in March 2020; the FG approved lockdown in Abuja and Lagos State, both international airport hubs, forcing most airlines to shut down operations. This further affected the operations of the ground handling firm, as the government sought to contain the spread of the virus.
Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic dilemma, the sector was also affected by the activities of #EndSARS protesters that blocked the entrances of the Lagos airport to express their grievances against police brutality and extortion in the country.
The companies are Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc (SAHCO) and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO). Their combined revenue for the nine-month period ended September 30 dipped by N2.7billion to N10.1bllion from N12.8billion in the same period of 2019.
According to their financials, the drop represents a 21% reduction in revenue in the period under review.
Country Manager, Nigeria & West Africa, Qatar Airways, Kennedy Chirchir, explained that the state of the sector is the result of the new normal of the industry, which means a total paradigm shift.
He said, “We are moving to the digital space where physical interaction would be reduced drastically. Most of the operations will be on a digital platform. There will be more requirements in terms of the turnaround of aircraft. Before now, it takes about 1 hour for aircraft to turnaround, but now it may take as long as 2 or 3 hours because there would be stricter checks. These will happen but will not stop people from travelling and that means the future is bright for the sector.”
On the part of travel agencies, Managing Director, BTM Travels Limited, Lola Adefope, explained that the adoption of technology would be emphasized. Before this, she insisted that it was important for operators and regulatory authorities to ensure that right policies and processes were in place to drive the technology, else the nation would be placing the cart before the horse.
“What we need to do is to implement a proper education process and platform. That is to ensure people understand the risk of travel and the safety measures in place with the technology to support the process. The technology will push notifications to people directly.
“We are going to see a move to much smaller groups when it comes to actual leisure travel. Leisure travel won’t develop at the international scene immediately, but we have to develop domestic tourism. We must put in place policies and processes before we open our borders for intercontinental or international tourism,” she said.
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