International flights: PTF differs as Sirika fixes August 29

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Monday announced that international flights into and out of Nigeria would resume on August 29.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, however, said that the date was not sacrosanct.

International flights were suspended by the Federal Government across the country about five months as a result of the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sirika announced the resumption date for international flights at Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, after tweeting same via his Twitter handle earlier.

He stated that as a result of resumption, all evacuation flights which were introduced across the country in the wake of the ban on international flights, would end on August 25.

 Sirika said Nigeria’s international airports had reached advanced stages of preparedness for the resumption of international flight operations.

He further disclosed that like it was done during the resumption of domestic flights across the country, the international flights would commence with two major airports.

He named the airports as the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Sirika said emphasis would be placed on the observation of all the safety and technical guidelines as prescribed by global and health authorities, which would be communicated in due course.

The minister said, “I am pleased to announce the resumption of international flights from the 29th of August, 2020.

“It will begin with Lagos and Abuja airports as we did with the domestic flight resumption. Protocols and procedures will be announced in due course. We thank you for your patience.”

 The minister also said passengers must take a COVID-19 test from wherever they were coming from and stressed that this must be very close to their departure dates.

He said, “A portal will also be opened for passengers to pay for another COVID-19 test to be done eight days after arrival in Nigeria.

“They will also fill in health questionnaires online and hand them in at the point of entry, instead of filling the forms on the aircraft or on arrival.”

Meanwhile, officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria on Monday inspected facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja ahead of resumption of international flights.

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The South-West airports manager and MMIA airport Manager, Mrs Victoria Shinaba, conducted top staff of the agency as they inspected COVID-19 facilities at the airport to ascertain their readiness for resumption.

Airline operators also expressed readiness to take to the skies, following the announcement made by Sirika.

Spokesperson for Air Peace, Stanley Olisa, said the airline was ready to begin operations, noting that prior to this period, the carrier had been involved in evacuation flights for over five months.

Spokesperson of Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, hoped that the resumption of flights would spike the passenger load traffic for domestic flights.

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