By Yakubu Dati
In all spheres of life, innovation is known to be the driver of change. Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka knows it. On a recent Thursday,he brought his midas touch to bear on the aviation sector once more. It was the introduction of Passengers Service Portal.
Undoubtedly, Nigeria is on course to achieve its target of handling 15 million passengers this year, according to Chidoka and everything must be done to ensure passengers get the best.For Chidoka, a culture of passenger is the king that started in January 1914, when Abram C. Pheil, the former mayor of St. Petersburg made history by being the firstfare-paying airline passenger has to be preserved through provision of information that will make each journey a passenger makes to be memorable and without stress.
Interestingly, some years after Pheil flew asthe first fare-paying passenger, precisely in1925, the British RAF aircraft landed in the ancient city of Kano to signal the beginning ofthe Nigerian experience in aviation.Following that experience, aviation would laterplay a leading role in shaping the lives of people in Nigeria and all over the world.
The year 2014 has been a significant year in the aviation sector globally.
It marks the centenary of the commercial aviation industry with 65 billion passengers in its kitty. And with over 15 million passengers estimated to be the number of those expected to board aircraft in Nigeria in 2014, the need to provide support to passengers cannot be overemphasised.Some of these passengers will be flying for business, work and leisure.
However, every passenger that flies passes through an airport and that tells a much broader story. The services and experience a passenger get at the airports leaves a lasting impression. Hence, the critical role of airports’ management cannot therefore be over emphasised. So, Chidoka therefore hit the target when he zeroed in on the need for improved passenger service at our airports.The launching of the passenger service portal and helpline has sent clear signals that thisebullient minister who rode to power on the back of his great strides as a Corp Marshall is matching words with action. Of course, picking the strategic first week of December to launch the Passengers Service Portal (PSP) www.aviationportal.com.ng and call centre helpline 0700011111 was novel and noble.These platforms empower passengers with information at their fingertips.
Passengers, aviation stakeholders and indeed the general public can access information on flight availability, local airport information, weather forecasts and airline performance analyses. Furthermore, visitors will have access to online aviation forums; industry news and Aviation commit updates. It will not only bridge critical lapses in the manner our airports and airlines currently operate, but most importantly improve service delivery at our airports, redress delays, cancellations, dearth of information and deplorable services bedevilling the sector. The passenger service portal and call centre helpline will provide a one stop platform for passengers to get access to information about hotels, car hire services, hospitals etc on line. While airport users are entitled to seek redress for shoddy services, unruly passengers will be profiled through a mandatory identification for checking in process and possibly be barred from flying in our airports.
As the aviation sector braces up for the envisaged upsurge in passenger traffic this Yuletide season, this platform empowers passengers with tools to make the travelling experience seamless and determine their fate. The passenger now has the power in his palms. Driving these transformational milestones will not be an easy task. Like the spies of Canaan, there are those who are already seeing “giants” instead of “land flowing with milk and honey’. In this clime, peculiar with its army of critics, those seeing the impossibilities are legion.
However, Chidoka is prepared to convince them. For a man with a track record ofbringing change to the road transport sector during his time at the Federal Road Safety Corps, he may have indeed been prepared for such a time as this. Like the popular commercial, enthusiastic Nigerians say ‘keep walking’…
and ethnic conflicts.
Yakubu, Coordinating General Manager, Aviation Parastatals, writes