• Operation starts with 1,280 passengers
The Federal Government yesterday, said it will enforce the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations in the country, after it suspended international flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, who gave the indication at Thursday’s media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said the decision means that only airlines from countries that permit flights from Nigeria will be allowed to fly into and out of the country.
According to him, the country’s position was informed by the ban placed by some countries on flights from Nigeria, stressing that the decision was taken in the best interest of its citizens. The Minister who was represented by the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, also disclosed that airlines will be informed on arrangements put in place to ensure that resumption of flights will be hitch-free.
He also stated that for now, only a few flights per day will be permitted as a test run for the protocols put in place to ensure a safe return to international operations. The protocols, according to him, would be made public in due course.
“Since the announcement of the resumption of international flight by the PTF through the minister of aviation from August 29, about nine days from today, we have ramped up preparations, we are almost there.
“A few logistics to be resolved within the next few days. For this resumption, we are going to start partially with Lagos and Abuja airports and we going to restrict passengers to about 1,280 initially on both to Lagos and Port Harcourt.
“While other logistics are being put in place before we ramp the number of passengers that will be allowed to come in, we are working on the logistics and how to determine the number flights, that will be done today (Friday).
“There are certain countries that have placed ban on Nigerians and residents of Nigeria going to that country and this process will determine who and who will be allowed to come into Nigeria. The principle of reciprocity will be applied. The conditions you gave Nigerians to travel to your country will apply to those coming from your country.
“If you ban us from coming to your country, the same will apply to you because we have to get a level playing field on the issue of principle of reciprocity. For this process, we had a meeting with foreign airlines on Wednesday. We gave them our requirements on the resumption of flights, for those who will ultimately be allowed to resume flight operations.