The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said the Nigeria airports are 90 percent ready to commence operations as the nation prepares to lift the ban on travels.
He also said the remaining preparation border on surface cleaning and bags provision, which will be perfected as soon as flight resumes.
The Minister also maintained that non-travelling aides of all dignitaries will no longer be allowed into the terminal as part of the new protocol.
Speaking at a press briefing after the assessments of the physical changes and preparedness of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, the Minister said, “The flight simulation is to achieve some basic things: firstly it is to maintain physical distance with each other, secondly, it is to wear protective materials such as face mask and face shield, thirdly, It is to maintain hygiene, fourthly, it is to clean the area and surfaces and that is a function of the robot itself apart from identifying the passengers.
“All of the things that has happened here is to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19.”
On the time to be spent with this new protocol, the minister said “the experience is quite nice but it takes a bit of time which is why you will need to be at the airport three hours before your departure time for local flights. For international flights, we may do five hours.”
Speaking on the protocol inside the flight he said, “There will also be social distancing in the aircraft. But new ideas are coming on board on how to remain seated to make the carbine economically okay and to ensure we don’t infect each other. Those new norms are coming and we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable. WHO and ICAO have developed protocols of the sitting.”
It would be noted that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) conducted the simulation exercises to test all the protocols designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at the airports ahead of flight resumption.
The simulation exercise, which began around 8am saw passengers go through 3-hour protocols before boarding the Aero Contractor flight at about 11:20am.
The flight was operated on a B737 marked NG110 with 51 passengers on board.
Meanwhile, it was observed during the simulation exercise that 1.5m physical distance markings, two hand wash areas and bags disinfecting area have all been put in place at both the Abuja and Lagos airports.
Also, hand sanitizers were placed in strategic locations, and even at the entrance to the aircraft, even as Port Health workers were seen taking temperature levels of intending passengers.
Passengers were mandated to follow all protocols at all times.
The Nigerian airports have been shutdown for more than three months to avert spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.