March 25, 2023

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AVIATION IN 2021: Omicron truncates recovery record of Q1 through Q3- Gbenga Olowo

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Dr Gbenga Gabriel Olowo, President, Sabre West Africa, fielding questions from LAAC members

The gradual recovery with which air transport opened the year 2021, has gradually been wiped out towards the end of the year due to the diabolical effect of COVID-DELTA midyear, and COVID- OMICRON which unleashed its fangs on the tenuous recovery recorded and wiped it out down to the opening record of the first quarter of the year.

This observation by the President of Sabre West Africa, Dr Olugbenga Gabriel Olowo, was made known in a chat with the leadership of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, when asked to cast a retrospective look at the outgoing year 2021.

Dr Olowo, in a no-holds bare reflection, said, “aviation business was beginning to crawl to between 10 and 30%, in a Year on Year basis, YOY {in comparison with the same period in 2020} in Q1 till mid Q2, of 2021”.

The business and leisure travel management expert narrated that, “the third quarter was growing steadily to almost 75% of 2020 YOY when different variants of COVID-19 known as Delta and now Omicron raised its ugly head”, he said.

Olowo lamented that as a corollary to the twin attack on travel by Delta and Omicron, “aviation performance returned to the first-quarter level, and especially is this December, for the fourth quarter Q4, and one only hopes the decline does not continue into 2022”.

Passengers in the queue at Heathrow airport, London

He noted that the unsavoury reactions by governments which came in form of various manners of travel restrictions especially meant to curtail the spread of Omicron, dealt a blow on the tenuous recovery trajectory as recorded from the first quarter to the third.

The Saber W.A. helmsman identified the following decisions by the government a culpable for the retrogression saying, “discriminatory border closures, visa regimes and Covid protocols disrupted growth once again”.

He however expressed cautious optimism for 2022 while assuming that medical sciences would effectively checkmate any further mutation of Omicron to nothing else so that people could get back their lives and exercise one of mankind fundamental human rights- freedom of movement which includes travel through all the intermodal transport systems.

Olowo thus expressed optimism, “one should positively look forward to 2022 with great hopes that Omnicron variant will not metamorphose into another variant or any other plague as such that will impact a life so negatively like Covid-19.

He, however, urged the media, especially those reporting air transport, tourism and hospitality to be careful not to promote the challenges bedevilling the nation which he said were more often peculiar to most other comity of nations globally.

He rather called on correspondents, editors and publishers, especially those in the new media, “should make deliberate effort to sell the destination Nigeria, rather than its challenges which is not uncommon in any economy”.

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