In spite of the initial reasons making the rounds that it was because of the Wuhan Town in the Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, that informed why the government denied giving flight approva into Nigerial to some Foreign airlines, there may be more to it.
This is evident going what hadi Serika, minister of Aviation , from President Muhammadu Buhari, home state of Katsina, had said last August on the issue. The minister had said that the government will implement a reciprocity clause by banning flights and airlines from countries that had put similar bans on flights from Nigeria as nations open their airspace amidst COVID 19.
It was therefore not very surprising when the minister announced on Thursday, September 3, 2020, the flights and airlines from the Asian, European and African countries including North and South American Continents that had been denied Flight approval into the reopened Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT ,and Murtala Muhammed International airport, MMIA,, in Abuja, Ikeja, Lagos, on Saturday, September 5, 2020.
Given an insider of information of the airlines that were not allowed to join the British Airways, popular, BA, Emirates, aUnited Arab Emirate Airline, UAE, Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Air, Egypt Air and Virgin Atlantic, to resume flight operations in Nigeria for now was Sirika, the Aviation minister.
The Foreign airlines that were said to said to been affected by the government policy as released by the minister included the German giant, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Etihad, Royal Air Morocco , TAAG Angola airlines, Air Namibia and Rwandia Air. Cabo Verde and South African airlines may have been include on the list as the two Africa countries were yet to resume Flight operations .
Many believe that Lufthansa, which had been experiencing loss of over $$1.1 million per hour, in flight operations since the outbreak of the pandemic last, March may further go down the drain in the global aviation market with the denial of flight operations to Nigeria which has heavy passenger traffic.
. This is because its airbus, most of its bus, Boeing 747, which it had planned to use with the resumption of flight into NIgeria will further be put of use. Even, KLM and Air France, which also have Boeing 747 , air bus , in their fleet, may be facing such heavy financial loses as well as they have lost out in the Nigerian Aviation market due to the government policy. Before the shutdown of the country’s International airports on March 23, 2020, by the Katsina state born Nigerian President, to stop further spread of the COVID 19, Lufthansa, KLM and Air France alone, through Combined flight with other African countries , particular, Ghana, or direct flights , make two to three flights to Nnamdi Azikiwe, or MMIA, daily but that had stopped with the government policy.
The Value News learnt that prior to the government decision to scale down the number of flights and airlines that would be allowed into the two reopened International airports in the country, about 25 of the Foreign airlines from Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South American Continents had expressed interest to participate in the resumption of flights into the country this Saturday.
They are BA, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Etihad, Egypt Air, Delta air, United States, US, Emirates, AWA, Kenya Airways, Middle Airlines, Ethiopian airlines, Turkish airline, Virgin Atlantic, Air Peace, Asky , African Ward, Ghana and Air Cote d’Ivoire, Air Namibia, Rywandia Air, Angola TAAG, South African Air , Cabo Air.
But the airline operators may have known that there was problem ahead when the government scaled down the flight operations to four that may land in each of the two reopened airports daily with their approved passengers in line with the COVID protocols. The approved airlines both Foreign and Local, were said to have been fully booked , despite , the high cost of air ticket as at Friday, September 4, 2020, in readiness to commence flight into Nigeria on Saturday on September 5, 2020.
.The four flights that were approved that should land at any of the two reopened International airports daily are expected to airlift 1,280 passengers . The question on the lip of Aviation watchers was how the 1, 280 Passengers would be allocated to the airlines?
The government was said to have made it clear to the approved from onse f the resumption of flight order, that the airlines which fail to comply with the pre-boarding requirements would be fined $3,5000 per passenger. It was said to have read he riot act to the Passengers, that those who fail submit themselves or declare their PCR , test ‘’ would be placed on the watch list for six months or denied Foreign travel for six months’’.
The Aviation minister may not have made matters much more difficult for the airline passengers when he said that those who ‘’display COVID 19 symtons on arrival into the country would not be allowed self-quarantine but would be placed on institutional quarantine’’.
The Magazine had visited the Nnamdi Azikiwe and the MMIA, to ascertain how prepared the Civil Aviation stakeholders are ready to receive the flights and found that most of the airline offices at the airport are wearing a look as the staff were in high spirit to attend to their passengers . Eve most of the shutdown businesses at the airport including the Bureau DE ‘Change had opened up for financial transactions with their Customers.
As a prelude for the resumption of flights in the country as planned this Saturday, September 5, 2020, Musa Nuhu, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCCA, and his counterpart at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, were said to have officially notified the approved Foreign airlines, and the Civil Aviation Community b of the flight resumption.
There are indications that British Airways, popular, BA, Delta, a United States airline, Emirates, from UAE, Kenya airways, AWA and Middle East air have been scheduled to fly into the MMIA, with the resumption of flight operations today, Saturday, September 5.
For the Nnamdi Azikiwe, International airport, the following Foreign airlines were said to have been scheduled to land at the airport. The flights, a source disclosed included BA, Egypt Air, Emirates Ethiopian airlines AWA, Middle East Airlines and Turkish airlines.
Aware that the gradual reopening of the International airports across the country may not lead to quick and faster recovery of the nation’s aviation sector, the airline operators and the industry stakeholders were said have urged the Nigerian government to reopen the closed borders with the neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon, for improved interconnectivity of flights and faster recovery of the aviation sector.