NIGERIA’s Covid-19 Presidential Task Force (PTF) has revealed that the recent announcement of August 29 as the date when international flights in and out of the country is still tentative and based upon several conditions being met.
Like most other nations, Nigeria shut down her airspace, closed her airports and banned all flights during the height of the pandemic but has seen eased many of the restrictions. Yesterday, aviation minister Senator Hadi Sirika, said that international flights, which have been barred since March will resume at the end of this month.
However, Sani Aliyu, the coordinator of the Covid-19 presidential task force said the date announced by Senator Sirika, would only be for consideration of the resumption of flights. He stressed that authorities must meet certain criteria before international air transport is allowed.
Mr Aliyu said: “We will spend a whole day discussing international travel and how this will be done and if I may clarify, we said from the 29th of August, we didn’t say on the 29th of August. So, very similar to what we did for the domestic flights.
“Don’t come back and say that we promised we will open on the 29th but that date is not sacrosanct. However, we will work towards it.”
Senator Sirika said the airports had reached advanced stages of preparedness for the resumption of operations. These flights would commence with the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos.
On Monday Senator Sirika said that international flights into and out of Nigeria would resume on August 29. He said an emphasis would be placed on the observation of all the safety and technical guidelines as prescribed by global and health authorities, which would be communicated in due course.
Senator Sirika said: “I am pleased to announce the resumption of international flights from the 29th of August, 2020.It will begin with Lagos and Abuja airports as we did with the domestic flight resumption. We thank you for your patience.
“A portal will also be opened for passengers to pay for another Covid-19 test to be done eight days after arrival in Nigeria. They will also fill in health questionnaires online and hand them in at the point of entry, instead of filling the forms on the aircraft or on arrival.”
Meanwhile, officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria on Monday inspected facilities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja ahead of resumption of international flights. Airline operators have already expressed their readiness to take to the skies, following the announcement made by Senator Sirika.