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Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano Airport To Reopen Soon

In this Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 photo, Nigeria air force special unit simulate during a counter- terrorism exercise, at the departure hall of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Major airports in the country will in the “next few days” roar into life after weeks of inactivity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

The airports are the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja; Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja; Aminu Kano Arport, Kano and the Port Harcourt Airport, Choba, Rivers State.

The Federal Government on March 16 placed a travel ban on 13 countries, including China, United States and Italy that had recorded over 1,000 cases of Coronavirus.

On March 13 it shut all airports for one month and later extended it by two weeks. On May 6, the government further extended the airports’ closure by four weeks until June 7.

The decision to commence flights at the airports, according to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), is to avoid chocking the “system.”

NCAA Director-General, Captain Musa Nuhu stated this at a virtual event organised by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) titled COVID-19: The Challenges and Opportunity for Nigeria’s Aviation Value Chain, During and Post.

Nuhu said the NCAA worked with representatives of airlines and ground handling companies before forwarding a proposal to the Minister of Aviation for approval.

The NCAA boss said: “We may resume domestic operations with four or five airports and we hope to expand as we get better. We don’t want to rush everything at the same time and get it choked up….

“I do not want free money that I cannot account for. This is not an opportunity to ask for money to buy new planes. In fact, intervention should be for the work force. I have over 3, 000 staff members at Air Peace. These people’s livelihood are endangered and we must do everything possible to keep their jobs.

“We should be asking the government for specific things that would help retain jobs. Job retention should be first and foremost.”

NCAA has however released COVID-19 protocols as approved by the Federal Ministry of Health for the aviation industry.

The protocols are for Nigeria-based crew operating international flights.

The crew members are now required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and observe Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) measures for the duration of their flights.

Nuhu, who announced the approval of the new protocols in a letter to airline operators, airports and other service providers, added that the crew members would not be quarantined but would undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19 every 14 days at the expense of their employers.

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