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FG okays domestic flights from June 21



With effect from June 21, domestic flights will begin across the country, the Federal Government said on Monday.

Currently, the 23 airports are unferdoing decontamination. The airports and airspace were shut in March as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only essential flights including those of medical and evacuation purposes, are being operated.

Announcing this, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, saud at a briefing Abuja that necessary protocols were being introduced.
“The aviation industry is requested to start developing protocols to allow for domestic flights to resume anytime from the 21st of June onwards.
“Airlines must ensure physical distancing by reducing passenger capacity and ensure the provision of sanitisers and personal protective equipment as well as carrying out temperature checks at the point of entry and departure and ensuring that airports are not congested by either travellers or airports staff,” he told the briefing.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, asked stakeholders to start developing protocols towards local flights resumption.
He said preparatory to flight resumption planes that had been packed for the past three months would be serviced to ensure their air worthiness.
“The maintenance of the aircraft is either usage or calendar time, whichever comes first and then protocols to storages of this aircraft either for short or long time. That is being done currently. The aviation needs to bring these aircraft to safe operations.
“There is also the issues of medical that every pilot should have license of medical permit that states that he is medically fit, well enough to carry out safe operations.
“Within this period, some of them may fell short and they need to do their medicals and so on and so forth ” the Minister said.
Sirika restated that the aviation industry is the worst hit by the lockdown, saying “it is eager to reopen for business.”
“But we must start in a very orderly, organized and safe and efficient manner so that we will achieve the intent and purpose of air travels, which is safety, efficiency and very secured manner. So please bear with us.
“I have said here that because it is a service industry, if you don’t sell tickets today and you don’t fly I have lost it. For three months  people have not flown, which means salaries have not been paid, no income has been made because is a service sector.”
On when international flights will begin, he said: “Today, we will begin to receive directives or suggestions or practices and standards from ICAO – lnternational Civil Aviation Organization. We have factored that in. Today, we had a meeting on how we will start operations again.
“Some countries will definitely run faster than others but I can tell you that countries will huge population and aviation activities such as Nigeria, will definitely need to be cautious, will need to reflect on safety and efficiency of the industry.
“Two hundred million people with  923,766 square kilometers is really enormous and calls for every single action that will hitherto ensure safe operations.
“The private jets that want us to short circuit the system by which they were given approval for the flights, certainly, it is not for anybody that has money to fly on a private jet from Kano to Lagos or Port Harcourt.
“No. We still maintain and insist that it must be either be for humanitarian, banking and finance, power, oil and gas, these are the ones that are allowed to fly on private jets. We have seen what happened to FlairJet the other time. And approval is only electronically done.”
He debunked claims that money is being paid for approval of flights, saying “this is far from the truth, it is free…people should stop living in the past. For us in this government, we are very conscious of the weight of security on our hands.
” I have been minister for the past five years and I challenge anybody before these cameras that claims he has given me any money. There is FOI Act in place and we will give you all of the information.”
On May 6, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, had announced that the closure of the country’s airports and airspace were further extended by four weeks after due consultations with experts.

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