COVID19: Airport deserted as Cargo import declines

MMIA terminal, Lagos

As the Coronavoris continues to ravage countries of the world,
passengers have deserted major international airports in the country.

A visit to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Ikeja, revealed
that the hustling and bustling which usually characterized the airport
from the car park to the terminal building was no longer there

The ever busy temporary car park was empty while both the arrival and departure halls at the terminal were virtually empty.

Few passengers on ground were those travelling to neighboring African countries where the deadly coronavirus have not been recorded.

Airlines staff, Immigration officials and security personnel were seen
relaxing as a result of low passengers turn out.

Many mega carriers across the globe have either cut down the number of their frequencies or stopped flying to their different destinations.

The trend has also affected cargo transportation to and from the
country as cargo importation has dropped by about 70% in the wake of the coronavirus.

Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma, President, Association of Foreign Airlines and
Representatives of Nigeria (AFARN) told reporters that the industry had been passing through a very difficult period since the outbreak of
the disease.

Nwokoma said there was slow traffic, cancellation of flights, great
reduction in cargo traffic. “When it started, it was like a joke we all
think it will soon pass away. The cargo sector or aviation generally
is a big hit because most of the carriers that do not have freighters
they do a combo, off course the 777 is a big aircraft it can take lots
of cargo, they are not just only selling for the passengers, they are
all selling cargo.If we don’t have people going to the airports, meet
with carriers to facilitate their cargo, where do you expect the cargo
to come?”

He said it would greatly affect cargo as the warehouse, they used to be China cargo section was now like a graveyard.

He said over 20 different airlines were operating into the country
before the outbreak of the corona disease but not up to half
of the airlines were operating into the country now.
“If you go to the warehouses, it is like a ghost town, in those days,
we use to have the China section of the warehouse, almost 70% of what
comes in goes to China or the Asia section of the warehouse but now it
is empty, we just hope pray that things get better.”

“Most airlines are cancelling, stopped; Frequency has dropped, offcourse you need to have passengers and cargo to fly out. Before covid19, we had all the carriers coming in over 20 plus aircraft coming in both scheduled and non-scheduled coming in and landing. As am talking to you, more than half of that have stopped coming in and even those that are coming in are also looking at frequencies,frequencies have dropped, a lot of people are not traveling again and cargo is down,”, he added.
Nwokoma noted that Asia was the market for most export and import and since the pandemic; production and export of goods had been brought to a halt.
‘If we are going to look at decline in cargo, if we are going to rate it, we should be talking about 70%, am even being magnanimous about
it, 70% because most export goes to Asia while import comes from Asia and China is key Asia because at times most of these leave China heads to somewhere like Dubai,then from Dubai is being distributed around the world, it is unfortunate but this is where we are so, what we can’t change we learn
to accept, hope for the best and then hopefully and prayerfully hope
that a cure, a vaccine comes in fast so that we can have our workforce
back, a healthy workforce is very vital to the Industry.”

He commended the federal government for steps taken so far to ensure that the disease does not spread.


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