The Ministry of Aviation has suspended ExecuJet airline indefinitely for false information and for flying Naira Marley to Abuja for a concert on June 12.
This was disclosed by the Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, via his Twitter handle.
He said, “Ministry of Aviation has suspended operations of the ExecuJet indefinitely for providing false information to convey Naira Markey to Abuja for a concert.
“The flight was initially approved to convey a service Justice from Lagos to Abuja.”
The Ministry of Aviation has suspended operations of the ExecuJet indefinitely for providing false information to convey Naira Marley to Abuja for a concert. The flight was initially approved to convey a service Justice from Lagos to Abuja, Aviation Minister @hadisirika has said.
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) June 15, 2020
ExecuJet’s aircraft had conveyed Marley on Saturday to perform at a concert in Abuja despite a ban on interstate travel and for violating social distancing rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
While the company will be fined, the Flight Captain will also be sanctioned for providing false information.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika said the airline used approval granted for a legal flight operation to convey Naira Marley to Abuja for an illegal concert.
Port-Harcourt International airport resumes flight operations
The first flight to Port Harcourt was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos.
The Port Harcourt International Airport formally resumed flight operations on Saturday, July 11, with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), restating its commitment towards a zero coronavirus transmission.
This was disclosed by the Regional Manager South-South and South-East of FAAN, Abayomi Akinbinu, on Saturday, July 11, during the arrival of the first flight after 3 months of shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The first flight, which was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos, arrived Port-Harcourt International Airport terminal at 7.50 am.
He said the Port-Harcourt airport management was ready to ensure zero chances of the coronavirus transmission with the management giving no room for default of the COVID-19 safety guidelines by regulatory authorities as flight operations resume at the airport.
He frowned at the non-adherence to physical distancing rule, while also commending safety compliance level by service providers and passengers at the airport.
According to Abayomi, “Our markings of 1.5 metres apart are visibly on the floor, but maybe because of excitement it’s not being properly followed; so we need to make quick enforcement in that regard.”
He said although there was low turnout of passengers, he expected a gradual increase in the coming days.
He said, “On the departure section, we are gradually getting more passengers and I believe that going forward passengers’ turnout is going to increase. My message to prospective passengers is that the Port Harcourt International Airport terminal is safe.”
On his own part, the Head of Aviation Medical Clinic of the airport, Dr Nuhu Mwabi, said that the Port Health is seriously conducting mandatory temperature checks on both service providers and passengers before allowing them into the airport terminal building.
Nuhu said, “This is because we want to fish out persons with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and above, so that we can isolate such individual. Our cardinal objective is to ensure that we contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases within the airport.”
He added that the World Health Organization and the various medical teams were ready to professionally handle any suspected case, should the need arise.
It can be recalled that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had last week announced the resumption schedule for flight operations for the various airports across the country. The Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport resumed flight operations on July 8.
Covid-19: British High Commission to resume visa application in Nigeria
Nigerians who want to visit the UK can do so as soon as international flight operations resume.
The British High Commission in Nigeria has announced plans to resume visa processing in the country. It revealed that it will soon begin receiving visa applications from Nigerians who want to travel to the United Kingdom (UK).
This was disclosed in a public statement by the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
It said that Nigerians who want to visit the United Kingdom can do so as soon as the international flight operations resume in the country. The statement said:
“We know there are many Nigerian nationals hoping to be able to travel to the UK when flights resume, both for employment and to see family members.
“UKVI are working closely with TSL contact, our commercial partner, to reopen visa application centres that were suspended due to COVID-19. UK visa application centres are reopening in phased manner globally when it is safe to do so and when we can operate an effective service.
“TSL contact are putting appropriate measures in place and working hard to reopen in Nigeria. We will share details of when VACs will reopen soon,”
READ MORE: US to stop issuing visa for Birth Tourism
It can be recalled that the Federal Government had shut down the airports to both domestic and international flight operations in March as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Following the gradual resumption of domestic flight operations, Nigerians are expecting that international flight operations might be resuming soon.
Stakeholders explain why passengers will pay more for local air travel
As domestic flights resumed Wednesday, passengers will now have to deal with a significant hike in the air fares which stakeholders attribute to the 50% reduction in passenger capacity.
According to stakeholders who spoke to NAN, the government’s directive to leave the centre seats of the aircraft vacant was directly responsible for the increase in air fares.
Mr Tayo Ojulari, an aviation stakeholder, told NAN that this directive coupled with other challenges which the airlines had to deal with, would not allow them stick to the former air fares.
“The cost of operations and FOREX is affecting airlines. Reducing passengers’ capacity to 50 per cent, has another economic implication for the airlines,” he said.
However, other sources who spoke anonymously, hinted that the increase in air fares could have been influenced by taxes and other fares increased by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Coupled with other extra costs which the airline factored into the base fare, it was obvious that passengers would be paying these new fares for a long time.
This increased fare may be the reason for the scanty terminals observed in the airports, although there are suggestions that passengers are still skeptical and wish to observe the reopening of the airports for a while.
A check by NAN showed an increase across board 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.
Arik Air resumed operations on Wednesday, with the management pledging to abide by the government directives.
The Public Relations and Communications Manager of Arik Air, Mr Adebanji Ola told reporters that protection of passengers and cabin crew members was paramount to the Airline, and there would be strict adherence to the directives given by the government.
He also stated that Arik air has commenced three daily flight operations from Lagos to Abuja, in this first phase of the aviation restart.
Air Peace also resumed flights on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Dana Air has announced the resumption of its flight services on Thursday, July 9. The Chief Operating Officer of Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo said in a statement that the airline would operate three daily flights from Lagos to Abuja and back while the date for the addition of Port Harcourt and Owerri to be announced later.
The Director of Aviation Security of the Federal Airports Authority of a Nigeria (FAAN), Retired Group Capt. Usman Sadiq, also told NAN that adequate security measures had been put in place at the airport, with increased manpower to ensure adherence.
It was also observed that passengers complied with the COVID-19 preventive screening measures before boarding, but stores within the airport were all locked.