By Wale Matt’Olapade
Right from the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year, cargo flights are yet to resume full-scale operations even after the lockdown in many countries has been eased.
However, because of poor passenger movement, many airlines are still using their passenger aircraft for cargo operations which is paying off for them, a litmus test many airlines resulted to to meet the new normal.
The President, Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma, in an interview with journalists in his office at the Murtala Mohammad international Airport Cargo shed, said cargo airlines no longer come into Nigeria with bigger aircraft due to low import and export activities because of the impact of the pandemic on the sector.
Nwokoma explained that, the pandemic had significantly reduced tonnage forcing airlines to use smaller aircrafts, adding that most of the mega cargo carriers with underbelly aircraft of 45 tonnes of cargo, no longer come into the country with their cargo aircraft.
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“We still have cargo coming in from China, Asia US and Europe but you can never compare the volume like the normal times. We still have European airlines that refused to come into Nigeria because they are not sure of our preparedness and figure.
According to him, there were still low cargo activities but he expressed the hope that with the vaccines coming out, things will definitely improve.
Nwokoma said that it may take the industry another 10 to 15 years to witness stability due to the impact of COVID-19 on aviation, adding that some carriers were already returning their fleets as their projection did not meet their targets.
“If you ordered for aircraft and you know it’s not going to be useful to you, you can only stop that order. Aviation is the worse hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The AFARN President stated that there had been a remarkable improvement of about 35 per cent increase in business as against 10 per cent when compared with 2020.
“There is significant improvement in cargo coming compare to COVID-19 era at least 35 per cent increase.”