The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, has okayed the resumption of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, for local commercial flights.
The team, following an inspection tour of the two facilities, expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness for their reopening scheduled to be announced soon.
In a related development, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has hinted that airlines and other operators in the industry would get the proposed government bailout this week.
Shortly after inspecting the Abuja Airport, members of the Taskforce on COVID-19 arrived the Lagos Airport aboard an Aero Contractor’s test flight at noon, to assess the level of preparedness at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT).
Besides Sirika, others in the team were the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Education, Nwajuba, among others.
They inspected both the departure and arrival areas of the airports to assess the social distancing measures put in place. The boarding and waiting areas were clearly marked for passengers to observe social distancing, while the toilets have automatic hand washing points.
Similarly, automatic sanitiser dispensers were provided at every point of the boarding, just as there are automatic temperature screening points.
Sirika, who did not specify when the airports would reopen for commercial flights, said he was 90 to 95 per cent satisfied with what was on ground.
He said the only thing left to be done at the airport was the surface cleaning and installation of baggage spray machines, which he said were ready.
He said: “Once we start, all the physical distancing measures would be observed. The markings in Lagos are as much as we have in Abuja. I’m not 100 per cent satisfied, but I am 90 per cent satisfied. Why did I say so? Because we have clearly marked our airports in Lagos and Abuja. We have trained our staff to ensure physical distancing. We have provided COVID-19 compliant toilets. We have provided hand sanitisers and guided people efficiently. We reduced the amount of people the Co-Bus will take.
“So, we have done everything humanly possible to ensure that people keep physical distancing and they wear their mask. So, I am very satisfied and happy.
“I think once we are good to go, we are good to go. You know there are two components of it: The health and safety components. This thing is not as easy as you think. I don’t want to give a date, but I am sure we are getting there,” Sirika said.
On palliatives, the minister said with the cooperation of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Finance, the amount of the palliative due to operators would be announced soon.
Aliyu also expressed satisfaction with the level of preparation by the aviation sector to restart, saying the stakeholders had done very well.
On his part, Mamora said compliance is critical and government might be compelled to enforce compliance.