COVID-19: Minister inspects Airport facilities, completes flight simulation

Rahila Lassa / Ijeoma Nwankpa, Abuja

The Minister of Aviation and DG, NCAA checking in from NAIA, Abuja for today's Demonstration Flight in MMA, Lagos.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has inspected facilities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos in preparation for the resumption of flights in the country.

The Minister expressed delight at the level of facilities on the ground. He said that with the measures in place, the airports are almost ready to reopen.

As part of preparations for the reopening of the airports, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) also has held a dry run simulation exercises at domestic terminals of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos respectively.

The simulation exercise is in line with WHO and ICAO developed protocols guidelines for countries to adopt before reopening their airwaves in their countries.

The exercise is aimed at assessing the readiness of the airports for reopening after closing down for almost three months.

The simulation exercise began in Abuja as passengers were taken through the Post Covid-19 departure protocols en route Lagos on a Boeing 737 Aerocontractors flight. The team from Abuja arrived at the General Aviation Terminal, Lagos at about 1200hours. Passengers onboard the flight were facilitated in line with the normal procedural order of arrival facilitation.

The Aviation industry says all passengers must arrive at the airport 3 hours before departure time for local flights and 5 hours before departure for international flights.

He said the arrival time was given to ensure that all sources of contamination of the Coronavirus were decontaminated and safe for all passengers and personnel.

According to Minister, all precautionary measures were taken base on Science and data.

He, however, noted that all protocols for the reopening of the Aviation industry is almost completed and will reopen soon.

According to him, the authorities “are ensuring efficient facilitation of passengers so that so much time is not wasted in adopting the new normal. We will announce all the protocols again before opening. 

“Everything for me in this demo exercise worked very well. We came and began maintaining physical distance right from the outside. All the markings are there, and we respected that. During the checking procedure, we were shielded from the check-in officials, we got our boarding passes and during boarding, we detached our boarding passes and dropped the other end without physical contact. So contacts with people have been reduced so we can remain safe.”

Speaking on the protocol within flights, he said there will also be social distancing in the aircraft.

“New ideas are coming on board on how to remain seated to make the carbon economical okay and to ensure we don’t infect one another. Those new norms are coming and we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable,” he said.

The exercise was witnessed by the Ministers of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force, Dr Aliyu Sanni, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, Chairman, Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, amongst several other stakeholders.

Other Ministers on ground and the National Coordinator of PTF also took their turn to comment on their impression of the preparedness of the airports for reopening. They also expressed satisfaction at the measures on ground and optimism that the airports are ready for reopening.

The team from Abuja also went through the departure protocols, signalling the end of the exercise.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian government earlier scheduled to reopen its airways on the 21st of June but postponed it indefinitely because some measures needed to be emplaced before the reopening.


Zainab Sa’id