By Louis Iba
FROM the comfort of a bedroom, inside an office cubicle, and while inside a car, or a busy market stall, some air travellers in Nigeria now enjoy the ease of bookings, checking in luggage, securing seats in aircraft, and paying for all such services online. This is possible through various electronic channels and portals deployed by airlines and travel agents across the country.
With these platforms, Nigeria’s passenger traffic on domestic routes is reported to have risen by 20 per cent, according to a recent industry data obtained by Daily Sun.
This increase in the number of passengers booking cheaper flights online is listed as one of the factor for the increased growth.
Though an increasing number of passengers in Nigeria now only arrive at airport terminals in the country to pick up a boarding pass and hop into a flight having done the bookings and payments online, a greater majority are still ignorant of the existence and benefits of electronic transactions now enjoyed globally in the aviation, tourism and hospitality industry.
A female passenger, Lucy Ibanga, travelling from Lagos to Uyo on a domestic airline, at the Lagos airport told Daily Sun she has never bought air tickets in the last five years at any airline counters at the airport.
“I can’t remember ever buying tickets at any airline counter since 2011; I usually pre-book online and I make payments online and the fares come cheaper and I also save the time I have to go to the airport to pay,” she said. But it is not the same for another male passenger on the same flight, Donatus Udoma, who said he still prefers to buy at the counter.
“As far as we live in Nigeria, I don’t trust the integrity of the online booking; I don’t do it. I have friends working for airlines and they help me get the tickets or I go to the airline counter whenever I want to fly and buy my ticket,” he said.
There are many air travellers like Udoma who have heard of the online booking system and have opted out based on fears over the integrity of the technology. But there could also be a vast majority of others, especially amongst infrequent travellers, who are totally ignorant of the existence of electronic transactions in Nigeria’s aviation industry.
“To such class of ignorant passengers, there is the need to get them informed that not only is it now cheaper but it is even faster and easier these days to purchase tickets online and then check in making use of laptops, desktop computers, tablets or phones,” said Mathew Ojimah, an air traveller at the Lagos airport.
Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia underscoring the importance of e-transactions in the airline industry said “Globally in the last 15 years, there has been a significant shift towards more online booking for flights as more airlines and travel agents now have internet engine websites.