Hope of international flight resumption in Nigeria has got a new slice of life with positive expectation that international airlines operating in the country may hit the runway soon.
This is spurred by meeting to holding later today by a committee of critical stakeholders in the country’s aviation sector.
The committee is made up of committee made up of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
Others are Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Airport Security Committee, Ground Handlers Association, Department of State Services (DSS), Freight Forwarders Association and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Committee and the Quarantine Service.
The stakeholders are expected to weigh the pros and cons as they discuss modalities for reopening airspace for international flight resumption.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the disclosure yesterday at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 media briefing in Abuja, assuring that international flight services will commence soon.
In related development, several of Nigeria’s domestic airlines have announced resumption of flight operations following the granting of approval by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), for the commencement of domestic flights across the country.
The approval also contains the reopening of the Benin and Jos airports in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the minister lamented that aviation was one of the worst hit by COVID-19 pandemic, noting that quick lifting of ban of international travel without adhering to the laid down protocols would amount to wasted effort.
He lamented that the harrowing experience and downturn in the economy of Nigeria and by extension, aviation has made it extremely difficult to pay salaries.
His words: “The committee will meet tomorrow (today) to further discuss the protocols as to the reopening of the airports.
Certainly, aviation is worst hit with this. There must be passenger movement for us to be able to survive. We have said here on this platform that salaries are becoming difficult for us to pay. “So, we want to open more than you want us to open. We have been living with the question of when we are going to open.
This is subject to so many factors and all of these sacrifices that we are making are in the interest of the public and the interest of all of us to fly safe.” The minister debunked insinuations that airspaces in Europe and other places had re-opened, saying it was not true.
“Like I said, if it is on us, we would open yesterday. If we open, we will make more money to enable us carry out all our activities. The purpose for us is to be able to judge what is safe for the citizens of our country.
“Please, bear with the situation. We feel your pain. We understand it as much as you do. We know that some people are cut away from their families, businesses, but this is an act of God.”