The federal government of Nigeria and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has asked the aviation authorities and airline operators to begin the process for the restart of international flights.
With the reopening of domestic airports for domestic flights in July after over four months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, travelers had been in high hopes for the resumption of international flights.
The PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, during a briefing on Thursday in Abuja, said the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies, as well as airlines, should commence the process for the restart of international flights.
According to Aliyu, passengers would arrive three hours before flights when the country’s airspace finally opens for international operations.
“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 opening international airports provided all existing international and local Covid-19 protocols 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.”
“There might be requirements for additional infrastructure in some of the airports. What we want to do, and we have made it very clear at the PTF is, we want to reooen as soon as possible but in a safe manner that does not put at risk all the efforts we have made to control this pandemic.
“Hopefully, the airports would open in weeks, rather than months. That is what we are looking at”, he added.
Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu said the National Council on Health which held its meeting on Thursday resolved that the sector must continue to work harder to halt the spread of the virus in order to be able to fully reopen the economy.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika said the resumption of international flights is not solely an aviation function as the main consideration is the health of the people.
According to him, while the industry would love to reopen fully so as to make money and save jobs, the reality on ground is such that it has to work with relevant stakeholders before reopening the airspace for international flights.