Get ready to resume international flights, PTF urges airlines  

Anthonia Duru

As Nigeria gets ready to open its airspace, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has advised the aviation industry to commence preparations for resumption of international flights within the next few weeks.

Local airports were reopened last month after many months of lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating high expectations that the international airspace would follow suit.

Speaking during a briefing in Abuja on Thursday, the National Coordinator of PTF, Sani Aliyu, disclosed that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and other agencies, as well as airlines, should commence the process for the resumption of international flights.

However, he also stated that when the country’s airspace finally reopens for international operations, passengers would be expected to arrive the airport three hours before flights.

According to him: “Specific to air transportation, as you are aware, domestic flights have already resumed; the railway sector has also restarted. 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 protocol 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.”

Recognising the economic implications of the decision and also emphasising the need to pay adequate attention to the health of the people, Aliyu added: “There may be additional infrastructure for some of the airports. What we want to do and we’ve made it very clear at the PTF is that we want to resume as soon as possible but in a safe manner and do not put at risk all that we’ve done to control this pandemic. Hopefully, in weeks but not months.”

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, reechoed Aliyu during the briefing, saying the government was mindful of its decision and would like to reopen the airports for international flights as soon as possible while working with other ministries, departments, and agencies of government.

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