The Value News

Aviation: MMIA And Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airports Back To Live

By Suleiman Umaru

For weeks , there have been rumours making the rounds that Hadi Serika, a  Katsina state born politician, and minister of Aviation, has given the nod to Musa  Shaibu Nuhu, Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority , NCCA, to reopen the Nigerian Air space for resumption of  International Flights into the country.

Based on the ministerial approval, the agency had  set  August 29, 2020, for the International airlines  to resume their flight operations  into the  Nnamdi Azikiwe  International airport, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT and Murtala  Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos, for a start.

 The two International airports and others, across the country were shut down on March 23, 2020, following  the Wuhan Town  in Hebei province of the Asian country of China, emerged coronavirus, COVID 19.  The pandemic  had spread to 214 countries including Nigeria, where  over  54,oo patients,             were said to have contacted  with the disease leaving on its throes hundreds of death as about 40,000 patients were said to have recovered from the disease, according to the Nigerian Center for Disease and Control, NCDC.

Ever since NCCA, gave signal of reopening the two  major  International airports in the country, there had been  jubilation in Aviation circles as  Passengers are  filled with happiness. Feelers from the Asian country of China, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirate, UAE, and the North American country of the United states , shows  that the airlines operators are Competing  for Nigerian  Passengers.

Hadi Serika: Minister Of Aviation

This is because of the ministerial directive  that only four International  flights would be allowed to land  at the two approved International  airports daily as a way of controlling  the flights into the country in this trying times and also stop fresh spike of COVID 19, .

Some of the International airlines  which were said to have been losing millions of dollar  since the  pandemic  paralysed air travels were said to have taken  the advantage of  the reopening of  the  Nnamdi  Azikiwe International Airport , and the  MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos, to  resume flight   into Nigeria.

 Luthansa, the German, airline giant , and  one of the Foreign   airlines , which  had dominated the Nigerian Aviation industry  over the  years  which was said to be losing $1.1 million per hour  as the coronavirus paralyses air travels  over the last five months,  have concluded  arrangement to resume operation into Nigeria.

 The other airlines  are the popular British airways, Emirate of the United  Arab Emirate, UAE ,and the Ethiopian Airline. These major airlines are now jostling for the Nigerian market.  While the airlines had concluded  arrangement  to resume flight  into Nigeria based on the  August 29, 2020 date,   news broke out that  the NCCA, had shifted the date of  resumption of International flights into  the two approved International airports  to September 5, 2020, thus forcing the airlines to cancel their schedule flights into Nigeria.  It was a big blow to many f the air travelers as they were forced to go back to  their  Hotel. Staff

Nuhu, the NCCA, Director General had  said that the agency was encouraged to take the decision to extend the resumption date for International flights into the country’s reopened  airports  by one week   because the  non-aviation  logistics    were not ready to operate like the airports and airlines.

The airlines have to jostle for the Nigeria market for  now because  the planes  that connect  the world, unite families  and open people’s eye to the horizon s are almost  entirely grounded.  The Value News findings shows that there are currently   about 17,000 aircrafts  parked  at airports. around the world,  This may have informed why  the UK,  Civil Aviation Authority , CAA,  has taken steps  to prevent  the backlog  of expired Credentials  from undermining  attempts   to get the planes  back  in the air.

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Given the long time the aircrafts  had parked at tarmac around the world, many believe  that there are clear  logistical problems  that may be involved  with getting  thousands  of these aircrafts  back into service  and ensuring enough pilots and technicians  to go around.  

  As at March 1, 2010, there were   between 175,000 and 180,000 flights  per day. Those flights were said   to dropped significantly to  64,522  flights  per day   as tracked on March 29, 2020.  The pandemic was said to have forced he  drop  further  to between 10,000 and 15, 000 flights per day in the recent time.

 The  situation in Nigerian is worrisome as  he airline operators which had  made arrangements to put their plane back on  air in nNieria air space are worried  that  the agreed   date will be shifted again. This may have  force the NCCA boss to speak out by assuring the  airline operators  and industry stakeholders  that ‘’the September 5, 2020, date for resumption of international flights into Nigeria remain the sacrosanct  date’’, meaning that the goal post would not be shifted again.

Insider information disclosed that  Boss Mustapha , Chairman, Presidential Task, PTF, on COVID 19, and  Sani Aliyu,  The Coordinator, were instrumental   for the extension by one week of the resumption of the International flights into the two approved International airports  located  at Abuja and  Ikeja, Lagos, the nation’s Commercial hub center.

Aliyu  Statement  at the  Monday COVID  19, briefing  at the FCT, speaks volume. He had stated that  ‘’the government is committed to  the safety and security of Nigerians’’, which gave an  insight why the August 29, 2020, initially fixed for resumption of International Flights into the two approved International airports in Abuja and Lagos , was  extended  by one  additional week.

The COVID 19, Coordinator,  may have   confirmed the Task Force , involvement  in facilitating  the extension of the   resumption of International  flights into the country when he  said ‘’the PTF is working with  the relevant stakeholders in the Aviation sector to ensure  that the country does not  witness a fresh spike of infections He may have alluded to the  NCCA and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN. The PTF on COVID 19, according to sources has  put in place guidelines to flatten  the curve that would make the country COVID 19 free.

  Aliyu, the PTF,  Coordinator  On COVID 19, may have  sent to have   sent a signal to the  International airline operators  and the air travelers that it  is no  longer  going to be  business as usual, when he said  ‘’those who fail to comply  with the  country guidelines on COVID 19, would be sanction.  The Magazine gathered  that the PTF officials,  had  already put in place measures  to enforce  the guidelines to ensure compliance  ranging from  suspending  travels up to six months or  deny Foreign travels altogether.

  As part of the sanctions, the    airlines were not pared . ‘’Any airline that  allow  Passengers  without COVID 19 PCR result to board  their aircraft,  would  be sanctioned on arrival in Nigeria’’, he had said. This may have  informed why the airline operators are now  insisting that Passengers must produce the PCR, before boarding  any of their aircrafts flying  to Nigeria to avoid playing into the hands of the PTF on COVID 19,tEam, NCCA,the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS or the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, that may lead to grounding of their aircrafts and payment of penalty.  

Going by the new guidelines that were said to have been put in place by the COVID 19 Task Force,  ‘’Passengers  entering  Nigeria ‘’must undergo the mandatory   test  to ascertain their COVID 19, status’’. The bad news for the Nigerian  travelers this time around  is that anyone  found to have symptoms  of the pandemic   will not be granted entry  into any aircraft  taking off from  any of the country’s International airports even after  getting a medical report  that indicates   that they are  free from the disease.  

Recall that Aliyu had  stated  the details of Passengers  COVID 19  result would be forwarded to the Pr tHealth ,  NIS , and  part of the security  services at the airport  for necessary action.

Stephen Ubanna

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