…to stagger flights henceforth
Following the shoddiness in last week’s airlift of Nigerians stranded in UK, the Federal Government says it will henceforth use local airlines with the approval of four local airlines for other airlifts.
It said arrangements for the airlines for the first batch of flights were not done by the government.
Giving the clarification, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama, said, “Government is mindful of need to use local carriers.
Arrangements for airlines for first batch of flights were not done by government. Flights being arranged henceforth are all Nigerian carriers; we intend to use only Nigerian Airlines henceforth.”
“The carrier that came from the United Arab Emirates was not a government-organised one and the one from the UK was one that was coming already, and the one that came from the US was one that had been arranged pretty much a private sector initiative.’’
Persecondnews recalls that the minister had last week apologized for the hitches in the evacuation of the stranded Nigerians to Lagos instead of Abuja and their transfer to Abuja on May 8.
Onyeama, while apologizing for what went wrong with the transfer from Lagos to Abuja of the evacuees from the UK on May 8, and the hitches faced when they arrived in Abuja, promised it would not recur again.
“We have put in place mechanisms to ensure no such thing occurs again,” the minister told a media briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 in Abuja.
Onyeama disclosed that Nigeria has so far evacuated more than 600 Nigerians from Dubai, London and U.S.
“I would like to thank all the Heads of our Missions in the UAE, UK and US. They have all worked very hard to deliver results. We are getting to the maximum capacity we can cope with, in terms of care, at this time. We will therefore be staggering our evacuation flights, and dealing with the evacuees in place first, before bringing others back.”
According to him, there are still many Nigerians out there, who want to return home from China, India, France, Canada, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan and others.
“We have evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, London and the US. Well, first of all, I’d like to express our profound gratitude to the heads of missions in the United Arab Emirates, in London and in New York.
“They all worked extremely hard and the consulates in the embassies and were able to deliver very good results. I really thank them for their very, very hard work.
“The flight from the UK, unfortunately, was a unique flight as I mentioned, it’s the only one were going to attempt. What we attempted in that case was to drop the passengers in Lagos and then transfer them with a completely different carrier to Abuja.
“Unfortunately, a number of things went not the way we wanted them to go and for that, we apologise most profusely to all the passengers; those who had to wait a significant amount of time in Lagos before boarding the connecting flight to Abuja. It was totally unforeseen.
“We were fully engaged during the whole process, trying to get that plane to take off quickly but as I said, unfortunately this did not happen and we apologise truly to all those passengers. And also in Abuja, there were logistics issues that again created some delay and there again, profound apologies,’’ the foreign affairs minister.
He pointed out: “Now, we have over 600 evacuees in various accommodations in Lagos and Abuja and we are reaching, as I understand from our medical people, a saturation point, the maximum we can really cope with and be able to deliver adequately and professionally the services in their care that we’re supposed to.
“So, this would mean that we would be staggering our flights in evacuating Nigerians and making sure that we deal with the ones that we have in place before bringing back others. But we certainly would hope that in an adequate period of time, we would be able to bring back some of the others out there.’’