The skies have reopened in Nigeria as passengers on Wednesday, boarded the first commercial flight out of Lagos, amid tight measures, following three months of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Three flights left the Domestic Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, Lagos.
Mrs Victoria Shin-Aba, the assistant general manager with the airport authority, speaking to journalists, assured all travellers that everything was in place to ensure the safety of all passengers.
A few passengers who were seen boarding, observed social distancing and other precautionary measures put in place.
Passengers also complied with the COVID-19 preventive screening measures before boarding, although stores within the airport were still locked up.
However, there is a significant increase in airfares, as the airlines resumed operations. The airlines raised their fares in all classes of tickets for one-hour flights from Lagos to Abuja.
Air Peace sold its Economy-Flexi Domestic plan for N33,001 for a one way Lagos-Abuja trip, while the business class ticket was sold for N80,000.
Arik Air’s economy plan was sold for N29,189, while the business class was N78,532 for a one-way Lagos to Abuja trip.
However, one of the airline officials, who preferred anonymity, said that the prices of the tickets were driven by extra costs factored into the base fare.
The source said that taxes and other fares increased by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) were also responsible for the hike in fares.
Some of the passengers also commended the measures put in place by the government at the airport to prevent the infection of COVID-19.
Kola Balogun, the Chairman of Momas Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company Limited, who was boarding to fly with Arik Air, commended the management of FAAN on the preventive measures put in place at the airport.
He said “I am highly impressed with the level of compliance and processes I am seeing here today.
“I commend FAAN for making lives more comfortable and sticking to the social distancing methodology.
“I urge the Federal Government to support the airlines’ operations through interventions for them to bounce back in business.”
Tayo Ojulari, an aviation stakeholder, said that he did not subscribe to leaving the centre seats in the aircraft as directed by the government.
“The cost of operations and forex is affecting airlines, reducing passengers capacity to 50 percent, which is another economic implication for the airlines,” he said.
The Director of Aviation Security of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Usman Sadiq, said that adequate security measures had been put in place at the airport.
Mr Sadiq said the government had also increased the security manpower at the airport for effective measures.
“There is an effective synergy between the various security agencies across airports in the country to tackle the numerous security breach incidents.
“All security agencies are on ground to ensure law and order at the airports, and today, we can see that Nigerians are well behaved from what was demonstrated,” he said.
He also expressed gratitude to the management team of FAAN for their support in carrying out their responsibilities.