NIGERIAN aviation authorities have only granted nine airlines approval to commence international flights in and out of the country when the federal government opens up its airspace tomorrow on Saturday September 5.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Nigeria, like most other countries shut her borders, cancelled international flights and prohibited movement. Over recent weeks, however, most of these restrictions have been lifted and Nigeria now plans to open up her airspace to international travel as from tomorrow.
Aviation minister Senator Hadi Sirika, said that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Mohammed International Airport would be opened up for operations. He pointed out, however, that only nine airlines will be allowed to fly into the airports, including
Middle East Airline, British Airways, Delta, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Air Peace, Virgin Atlantic, Asky Airlines, Africa World Airways, Air Cote-d’ Ivoire, Kenya Airways, Egypt Air and Turkish Airlines.
According to Senator Sirika, Air France, KLM, Etihad, RwandAir, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa and TAAG Angola Airlines were denied approval to commence flight operations. He added that Cabo Verde and South African airlines were also denied approval as international flights were yet to resume in their countries.
Senator Sirika said: “Abuja and Lagos will be open for operations on the 5th of September. We are satisfied with the preparations so far and we don’t anticipate any hitches.
“Saturday for Lagos there will be BA, Delta, Emirates, Qatar, Awa, Kenya Airways and Middle East airlines while for Abuja we have BA, EgyptAir, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, AWA, Middle East Airlines and Turkish and then we will release to you the time table for the remaining days. In our decision, we used two items, including the foreign carrier operating permit which is a requirement by our laws and the guidelines by the Covid-19 taskforce.
“The reason for Air France not being approved is that tourists business holders are not allowed entry and KLM was not approved for the same reason. Whereas for Delta Airlines, there are no restrictions in the US, as we have an open skies agreement with them and they also allow us in.”
Senator Sirika tasked the passengers to take responsibility and obtain all Covid-19 protocols laid down by the presidential task force, promising to sanction errant passengers and the airlines involved. He did not mention whether those barred airlines will be allowed in as soon as their countries lift their restrictions on flights from Nigeria.