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How Nigerian airlines are faring amid coronavirus-induced travel squeeze

Nigeria’s aviation industry is currently facing difficulties as airlines cancel flights, air passengers seek refunds, countries issue travel ban, suspend issuance of visas and governments change travel policy as a result of the new corona virus.

Bankole Bernard, president of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents, (NANTA) said before the ban, Nigeria’s aviation sector has seen about 20 percent decline in passenger traffic as a result of Coronavirus and will experience further decline.

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“I understand the challenges of the times, but let us persevere, let’s hold on until the light breaks, the tide turns, and the times change for the better. Let us together inspire people with our cheerful attitude and positive thinking whilst we face these difficult times courageously.

“The year 2020 till date has been challenging. Movements have been restricted globally, United States is putting a ’30 days’ restriction to everyone from mainland Europe, several embassies have shut down, there have thousands of flight cancellations, there are new rules on yellow fever vaccination for inbound travellers and the dollar rate has increased,” Bernard told travel agents in a statement.

He said all these challenges spell doom for the sector with the business of travel agents is suffering a major setback, as global airlines have recorded an estimated loss of $113billion.

He urged travel agents in Nigeria to see the opportunities that lie in these trying times, as it is a  good time to work on restructuring their businesses and focus on internal policies and trainings.

Bernard said since the spread of the Coronavirus from China, the travel industry has been affected especially because Nigeria is an import driven country but Nigerians however are now diverting to other countries such as Turkey to import their goods.

The United States Consular office in Lagos has been temporarily closed down.

In a routine message to its citizen, the consulate stated that due to reasons begin its control, it will be temporarily unable to provide regular services for visas and American Citizen Services in Lagos, but other offices within the consulate general remain open.

The consulate stated that consular functions at the U.S. embassy Abuja are not affected and will continue.

While the consulate did not state the reason for the temporary shutdown, sources say it may be linked to the recent outbreak of the coronavirus in Lagos.

Canada, a high-end destination for Nigerian travellers have said it is suspending all existing visas, except diplomatic, official and United Nations or International organisers till 15th of May, 2020.

India on Wednesday suspended all tourist visas until April 15 and said it would quarantine travellers arriving from seven virus-hit countries as it attempts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled worldwide as airlines struggle to cope with a slump in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak and passengers have continued to seek refunds on flights paid for.

However, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) all travellers to Nigeria will be screened on entry, regardless of country of travel origin. Thermal cameras will be used to detect fever on entry. Screening forms will be used to collect travel history, contact details of the passenger and next of kin.

In a statement sent by NCDC, “All travellers from China, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy to Nigeria are strongly advised to self-isolate at home, even if asymptomatic. They will be followed up by for 14 days by NCDC and Port Health Services. If they become symptomatic, they are advised to call NCDC.

“All travellers from countries with at least one confirmed case do not need to undertake any special measures immediately. If they develop symptoms, they should self-isolate at home immediately and call NCDC.”

The centre also advised that all travellers to Nigeria to maintain a high level of personal and res9piratory hygiene.

Globally, more than 7,000 people have died from the coronavirus and over 175,000 cases have been confirmed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 64,000 people have recovered around the world.

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