The Federal Government has commenced the process of gradual resumption of international flight operations which were suspended as part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19.
Airport authorities have expressed their readiness to reopen the nation’s airspace in a matter of weeks rather than months.
During a briefing on Thursday, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, said that approvals have been given for aviation authorities to commence the process for the resumption of international flight operations.
Aliyu revealed that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), other aviation agencies and the airlines, are to come up with a safe process through which airlines operating international flights can resume operations.
The PTF National Coordinator further disclosed:
“For international travel, we have made recommendations to the aviation industry to commence the process for reopening international airports, provided all existing international and local COVID-19 protocols are in place.
“We have modified the protocol for passenger arrivals at the airports. Domestic passengers arriving at the airports are advised to arrive one hour before their flights and three hours before international flights when this restarts.”
He said passengers arriving for domestic flights can now arrive an hour and a half before departure, while international flight passengers are to arrive 3 hours before departure.
In his statement earlier, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, who also doubles as the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had disclosed that the major changes being proposed in the eased lockdown were aimed at achieving gradual reopening of international flight operations within parameters.
It also includes reopening of rail transportation within established parameters and the granting of permissions to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations.
In his own contribution, the Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said that the decision to resume flight operations was not purely an aviation problem, as it had to do with health.
He revealed that the PTF had set up a technical committee that would deliberate on the date that all the stakeholders in international air transport would be happy to start operations.
While sharing in the pain of Nigerians, Hadi Sirika admitted that the closure of the international air space had separated families and friends, denied people access to hospitals and schools abroad as well as denied them access to their businesses.