The pandemic has posed record challenges to the world, including the international air transport sector.
Air busses are still to hit the air ways as usual, consequently the sale of air flight tickets is still a far-fetched dream. Covid-19 is to blame. The spread of the novel coronavirus has caused passenger demand to collapse, forcing airlines to park, rather than fly their planes.
In the economic capital of the Douala, the sales of air flight tickets is still down and air flight ticket sales agencies still wallow in misery. From every indication, passengers who paid their flight before the outbreak of the virus shutdown are demanding for a refund but then the air buses are not willing to refund the money to the ticket sales agencies which makes life difficult. It is on record that after the outbreak, most agencies laid off some of their workers, others are unable to pay their bills, rents and taxes. At the moment, some are threatening to shut down as most air buses are still grounded.
The president of the Cameroon National Union of Travel and Tourism Agencies, SNAVTC, Gorges Sangang Simo, reveals that the business is at it is worst at moment. He disclosed that after the closure of borders in March, their business stopped completely and people could not travel anywhere in the world. To him, there are no other sources of income for these kinds of companies apart from the sale of tickets. At the moment, most agencies are owing the banks as they have been unable to pay back their loans. He said before the ban on air travels a good number of people had paid for their tickets but till this date, the airliners have refused to refund the money of which they are forced to repay their clients. He disclosed that after the shutdown, SNAVTC proposed some measures to revamp the sector after Covid-19.
“It is our greatest wish that the government of Cameroon comes to our aid and support us. The support must not be financial, it can be in the form of the reduction or the cancellation of taxes for about 2-3 years, negotiate with the different banks so that they can reduce or stop the interest rate on loans, demand airliners to refund flight ticket money and the list is long” Georges Sangang Simo intimated. He also urged the government to request airliners to pay back the commission that they use to pay to the flight ticket agencies which will all go a long way to revamp the sector after Covid-19.
The president of SNAVTC said if they have to resume, Covid-19 barrier measures must be put in place which will require the building of new counters to respect the one-meter distancing, thermometers, wash hand buckets and why not rapid test kits for Covid-19.