NIGERIA’S airspace will remain closed to international flights until October 15 despite the resumption of domestic journeys and the easing of other coronavirus restrictions after the federal government said it is not yet ready to end all embargoes.
Like most other nations, Nigeria closed all her airports in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, grounding both international and domestic flights. Over the last month, this lockdown has gradually been eased with airports opening and a resumption of domestic flights but the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced that international flights will not be allowed until October 15.
In a recent Notice to Airmen (Notam), the NCAA stated that it is extending the closure of Nigeria’s international air space until October 15, 2020. According to the NCAA, there was never a time the federal government gave a specific date regarding the reopening of Nigeria’s airspace for international flight operations.
With this latest development, only essential and diplomatic flights will be allowed for now until Nigeria’s airspace is reopened. NCAA director-general, Captain Musa Nuhu, signed the Notam on behalf of the agency, asking anyone who wanted to apply for special dispensation for an essential flight direct their requests to the aviation minister Senator Hadi Sirika.
Captain Nuhu’s Notam read: “The federal government of Nigeria has extended the closure of our airports to all international flights with the exception of aircraft in a state of emergency. However, approval may be requested and granted to over flights, operations related to humanitarian aids, medical relief flights, alternative aerodrome in the flight plan and also those being used for extended diversion time operation, technical landing where passengers do not disembark and cargo flights and other safety related operations.”
Many foreign airlines had hoped that international operations would resume earlier than October, as some expected that they would start flying to Nigeria from August 19. However, this latest Notam has put an end to that expectation, prompting some international carriers that planned to move staff to Nigeria to delay their plans.
Some foreign airlines had already advertised August flight schedules on their websites and this will now have to be reviewed. Several airlines like Virgin and Emirates had been hoping to resume flights to Nigeria soon as the Lagos to London route is one of their most lucrative operations.