Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika on Saturday hinted that airports in the country were about 90% ready to restart operation, going by measures already in place. He disclosed this during flight simulations organised to test the preparedness of the airports.
Following dry run simulation exercises conducted by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the domestic terminals of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, ahead of flight resumption, the government said the airports were almost ready to reopen.
The exercise began in Abuja, as passengers were taken through the post-COVID-19 departure protocols en route Lagos on a Boeing 737 Aero Contractors flight. The team from Abuja arrived the General Aviation Terminal, Lagos, about 1200hours. Passengers on board the flight were facilitated in line with the normal procedural order of arrival facilitation.
Physical changes and preparedness of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
Senator Hadi Sirika said “The flight simulation is to achieve some basic things: firstly it is to maintain physical distance with each other. Secondly, it is to wear protective materials such as face mask and face shield. Thirdly, It is to maintain hygiene. Fourthly, it is to clean the area and surfaces and that is a function of the robot itself apart from identifying the passengers.
“All of the things that have happened here are to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19.”
On the time to be spent with this new protocol, the minister said “the experience is quite nice but it takes a bit of time which is why you will need to be at the airport three hours before your departure time for local flights. For international flights, we may do five hours.”
Covid-19 flight protocol
The minister said: “There will also be social distancing in the aircraft. But new ideas are coming on board on how to remain seated to make the carbin economically okay and to ensure we don’t infect each other. Those new norms are coming and we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable. WHO and ICAO have developed protocols of the sitting.”
Nigerian airports have been shut down in excess three months to avert spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s aviation sector has suffered a loss of $700m during the coronavirus pandemic.