The Federal Government has acquired Profiling Robots to process passengers at the Departure Hall of airports.
This was disclosed by the government via NTA News Twitter handle on Saturday, as the test run was done at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
It tweeted, “It can be programmed to identify unwanted items and check temperature. It is interactive and can lead or direct passengers.”
#PhotoNews: Federal Government Acquires Profiling Robots to Process Passengers at the Departure Hall. It can Be Programmed to Identify Unwanted Items and Check Temperature. It is Interactive and Can Lead or Direct You. pic.twitter.com/OeU4ebA2pj
— NTA News (@NTANewsNow) June 27, 2020
What you need to know: The robots would be used for passenger facilitation processes including profiling, check-ins, temperature checks as well as detection of security threats including dangerous goods and arms.
A source in Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) confirmed the development, as he disclosed that the test run of the robots was done at the Lagos Airport on Saturday.
According to him, if it works well, it will be adopted across other international airports in the country.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, along with the Presidential Task Force members at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, shared the protocols and guidelines for flight resumption in the country.
Sirika was also part of the simulation flight that was conducted ahead of the reopening of the country’s airspace to commercial operations on Saturday
The flight was operated by Aero Contractors beginning from the Abuja Airport to the Lagos Airport and vice-versa.
The Hon. Minister of Aviation and DG, NCAA checking in from NAIA, Abuja for today Demonstration Flight in MMA,Lagos. pic.twitter.com/m81hJJiLT4
— Nigerian CAA (@NigerianCAA) June 27, 2020
NCAA is expected to announce the resumption date for scheduled domestic operations anytime 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.
Lagos Ferry Company targets 480,000 commuting passengers daily – MD
The administration is seeking ways to decongest the heavy Lagos traffic and using inland water transport.
The Managing Director of the Lagos Ferry Services Company (LAGFERRY) Mr AbdoulBaq Balogun says the company has a target of transporting 480,000 people daily on the waterways of Lagos State.
He made the comment in an online show called ”Covinspiration”.
He said, “As at June 30, we had operated for 77 days on inland waterways and moved 60,000 passengers”. Revealing that the company had 14 boats and was making efforts to expand operations with bigger ferries with the involvement of private investors.
Adding that the administration is seeking ways to decongest the heavy Lagos traffic and tapping into the potential of inland water transport.
“With about 1.6 million people moving on Lagos roads every day, we are being tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that we move at least 30 percent of these motorists off the roads through the waterways.
“That gives us about 480,000 passengers. So, moving 480,000 passengers is our daily target on the waterways of Lagos State.
“Mr Governor is focusing his energy on ensuring a multi-modal transport system with the abundance of water bodies we have. We are moving people and goods on pleasant experience through the inland waterways,” he said.
He said the company operates in all the 40 inland waterway routes, and expanded operations will decongest traffic from in the on Lekki Epe Expressway, Ikorodu road, the Third Mainland Bridge and Lagos-Badagry Expressway
The managing director said that traffic congestion on Lekki Epe Expressway, Ikorodu road, the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos-Badagry Expressway would be minimized with LAGFERRY operations in those six routes.
“We are just coming on board, we are still testing the water, passengers are just coming to know us and we are still creating awareness.
“We have not reached our peak and we are yet to get to the optimum operational level. We want to expand the services of LAGFERRY to other routes and enhance productivity,” he said.
FG bars aides of VIPs from airport terminals, to grant loans to airlines, others at 5%
The minister insisted that face masks must be worn at all times inside the airport and airplane.
The Federal Government has barred all non-travelling aides of public office holders and very important personalities (VIPs) from gaining access into the Airport terminal.
This is part of the measure and aviation protocol designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease and ensure safety of the passengers and workers in the aviation sector.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
Sirika said that this measure applies especially to Governors, Ministers, National Assembly Members, Judicial officers and Military officers as the practice of having their Personal Assistants and Special Assistants, who they insist on seeing them off up to the aircraft though not travelling with them, would be stopped.
The Aviation Minister in his statement said, ‘’Henceforth, all VIPs will no longer be permitted to bring non-travelling aides into the Airport Terminals. This especially applies to Governors, Ministers, NASS members, Judiciary and Military officers.’’
While speaking on the new procedures during this COVID-19 era, the minister said that mandatory temperature and symptoms checks will be carried out at the airport terminals and frequent washing of hands should be done at the airports. He also said that face masks must be worn at all times inside the airport and airplane and anyone who does not do that will not be allowed inside the airport terminals.
He pointed out that physical distancing will be maintained at all times just as unruly passengers will not be allowed to board the aircrafts or fly as no pilot will be allowed to fly a plane carrying an unruly passenger.
He revealed that the processes of compression, heating, cooling and filtration that aircraft cabin air is subjected to, takes out 99.9% of all organisms including viruses etc. that’s why cabin air is safer than most other environments.
The aviation minister also stated that operators in the aviation sector including airlines, ground handling firms and others, will be given loan at 5% interest rate with effect from 2021. He, however, noted that the modalities for the loan is being worked out with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
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It can be recalled that Sirika stated this in an interactive session with the senate committee on Aviation where he said that any VIP coming into the airport this time around as a personality, minister or even members of the national assembly will not be carrying their aides into the airports anymore.