The Federal Government of Nigeria has said that full domestic flights at all the airports in the country will commence on July 15, 2020.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed this on Saturday in Kano State, during working tour from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja to Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport Kano on a simulation exercise with MaxAir, VM1644.
It could be recalled that domestic flights at the international airports at Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano, have since commenced since July 8th, 2020.
Sirika, who led a team of aviation industry stakeholders and the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, said that those that are not ready will be given enough period of time to avoid risking customer’s lives.
He further noted that the reason behind the exercise was to see that the airport was opened in accordance with the protocols led down by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 as well as assess the airport for safer operations.
“I am very glad and I think the civil aviation authority with Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria have done extremely very well under our watch to ensure that everything we put in place on physical distancing, good hygiene is being established and is being followed.
“So, we believe this airport is one of those airports that is safe to operate in and out during this COVID-19. “I am happy with what I saw and it is good enough for us to go”.
“Sitting in an airplane, because of the nature of the airplane, the airplane is hygienic enough once you have your mask, you are safe to remain seated on your seat and where possible, we will keep the distance.
“However, let me explain the mechanism in an airplane that makes it safe in COVID-19 period. “Airplanes are designed in such a way that the ambient air at altitudes is clean. It is not contaminated.
“The air dropped in the aircraft, pressurised and because of pressurisation, the temperature of the air goes up to 200 degrees which is twice boiling water point and there is no bacteria or virus that can survive it and it is suddenly cooled to about two degree centigrade and then it is passed to a filter, a high efficiency filter, and passing through the filtration system ensures that every single organism is screened and then it is passed to the cabin and once it is passed through the cabin, it comes from the ceiling downwards.
“So, it is not coming from the cockpit to the rear, it is from the ceiling downwards and it drops on the floor and gets circulated. This circulation happens every two minutes.
“So, on a flight from Abuja to Lagos, the circulation will happen like 27 to 30 times. “With this, it is ensured that it is more hygienic to be in an airplane than to be in an operating theatre in the hospital.
“With this mechanism in place, everything will be safe provided that we are decontaminating the airplane before we enter and decontaminating after we leave and also clean all the possible surfaces that one will touch. If this continues, then everyone is safe to remain in the cabin seated next to each other with the mask on.
“So with this, yes you can but in the departure and arrival halls and everywhere including the buses, you must remain physically distant, like at least six feet or two metres,” Sirika said.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the Maiduguri airport was ready even as he added that airfare are normal.
According to him; “there is little or no increase because nothing changed within the cabin”.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator, PTF on Covid-19, Mr. Dani Aliu stated that there would be an additional recommendations to the aviation agencies in terms of operationalising the airport in order to avoid unnecessary crowds.
He also declared that the measure was to make sure the airlines departure is promptly done.