Airport reopening: FG conducts simulation flight ahead

From Our Correspondent

Ahead of the full resumption of domestic flight operation, the Federal Government on Saturday conducted a flight simulation exercise.

The Renaissance reports that the exercise started at about 8.00 a.m., with passengers going through stipulated protocols before boarding a commercial flight at about 11.20 a.m.

The simulation exercise was attended by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, as the government tested all protocols designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at airports.

A Boeing B737 aircraft, marked NG110 with 51 passengers on board, was used for the exercise to-and-from the Abuja Airport and the Lagos Airport.

Recall that for about three months now, the country’s airspace had been shut to commercial flights due to the novel coronavirus disease.

In his remarks at the end of the exercise, Sirika said he was “not completely satisfied’’ with the safety requirements at the airports.

“I am not 100 per cent satisfied. I say so because I see that spaces at the airports have been marked clearly in Lagos and Abuja.

“We have hand sanitisers; we reduced the number of people in the hall.

“We have done everything possible to ensure that people are physically distant and wear their masks.

“The remaining one, which is about five per cent or so is to see surface cleaning ready and continuous.

“That would happen once we start and we are ready with the chemicals and so on.

“The other one is the baggage claim. This is a dry run, I am 90 to 95 per cent happy,’’ the minister said.

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The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, had said last week that the date for the reopening of airports would be announced anytime soon.

He said most gaps had been closed and that the airspace would be reopened very soon.

During the simulation exercise, it was observed that passengers maintained about two metres distance apart from each other.

They started boarding after port health workers checked their temperatures.

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, who was on the flight, said the aviation sector was highly regulated and it was important that the test flight held.

“Aviation has shown what they can be done in the sector and by looking at things all around you, you know that things have changed,’’ he said.

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