Capt Hadi Abubakar Sirika, Minister of Aviation
Nigeria’s civil aviation regulatory authority, the nation’s airports managers, and the airspace managers, are yet to inform the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, when the sector will be ready to cope with the new normal in global air transport –as informed by the COVID-19 pandemic- and submit a date the nation’s airspace could be opened.
The National Coordinator of the PTF on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, made the disclosure during a briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
Making clarification on the 1st June announcement, the national coordinator said the task force expected that by 21st June latest, the aviation agencies should make available the date in which domestic operations could be safely restart.
Hence the clarification knocked the bottom off the present belief making the rounds that domestic flight operations would begin in five airports by the 21st June, 2020.
Dr Sani enthused, “What we said to the aviation authorities is; you need to let us know from the 21st of June onwards if you are ready to start opening the skies. We didn’t say 21st of June skies open”.
He said the PTF was not interested in their preparation procedures knowing that the sector is a very technical one. Rather the industry as a body he said, is expected to get back to PTF and inform it of when flights could safely resume.
Dr. Sanni reiterated that members of the PTF knew very well that, “The aviation industry is highly regulated. There are certain things they have to do before they start flying such as retraining of pilots, recalibrating the aircraft, and ensuring safety at the airports to make sure people are safe”.
He explained further that, the 21st June is the deadline expected for authorities in the air transport sector to submit a date in which flight could resume.
He said the date for reopening of the airspace affects a lot of other critical issues such as the review of the restrictions of interstate travels and the curfew which are still in force.
His words, “we will open the skies for domestic travelers and that’s when we will address the issue of interstate restrictions and curfew”, Sani concluded.
However, it can be recalled in a recent television interview published by NTH, the Managing Director/CEO of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Capt Rabiu Hsmisu Yadudu said FAAN had presented its elevated operational safety protocol for the airports to the federal Executive Council, FEC, for approval.
The MD said as soon as the approval is gotten, the airports managers, including the concessionaires were as good as ready to hit the runway and take to the sky as the aerodromes were not in slumber at the heat of the pandemic.
He said since the airport operatives were on ground attending to diplomatic flights, medical emergencies, and evacuation of various nationals in and out of the country, opening the sky is not much ado. At the time of filing this report it could not be ascertained if the FEC had given approval for the airport managers requests to do the needful as already planned and then revert to the PTF for a sacrosanct date to begin flight operationsShare