Nigeria today resumed its domestic flights after three months of no flights, as the country eases restrictions amid the Coronavirus. Airports in Abuja and Lagos were first to open, with five of the country’s nine commercial airlines resuming scheduled flights.
Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Maiduguri airports will open on Saturday, July 11, while other airports will open on July 15. According to Aviation Security consultant Captain John Ojikutu, opening five airports first would be a safe way to resume services, allowing easy tracking and tracing of positive cases in domestic flights.
The country planned to resume domestic flights on June 21. However, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority postponed the move, awaiting all stakeholders to adopt safety measures. Airports in the country are enforcing standards to protect travelers using markings on the floor to ensure social distancing. Airports are also decontaminating bags, checking passengers’ temperature, and installing new handwashing facilities.
Airlines in the country will also offer Personal Protective Equipment to all staff and passengers.
Speaking on the preparedness of their airline, Dana Air Media and Communications Manager Kingsley Ezenwa said:
All Personal Protective Equipment has been made available for all staff, crew and passengers who might not come around with one. All recommended training and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for staff have also been updated and concluded. All our aircraft are fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which filter 99.9 per cent of unwanted particles and viruses in the air. It also helps passengers breathe normally. All aircraft in our fleet have also been disinfected as recommended by the NCAA, and we have an optimised cleaning protocol
The Guardian reports that many of the country’s private operators were denied resumption, following alleged non-compliance with safety regulations.
Speaking on the safety protocols, spokesperson for Nigeria’s Federal Airports Authority said, “We are not out to punish anybody. We are interested in their well-being, which is why we have put all of these things in place, so we expect them to please abide by all of these procedures.”
Questions For Domestic Flights in Nigeria
Like many other countries who recently resumed domestic flights, Nigeria has yet to answer the vacant middle seat. Consultant Ojikutu believes that the question will not arise anytime soon, as airlines should not expect half passenger capacity on their fleets.
Further, the country is yet to release N27 billion ($69.6 million) to bail out the country’s aviation sector. Reuters reports that only a relatively small group of passengers was today waiting to travel in Abuja.