By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus (Covid-19) Thursday reassured the general public that international flights in and out of Nigeria will resume on Saturday, September 5, 2020.
A member of the PTF and Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika who gave an update on the much-awaited resumption of international flights during the weekly press briefing of the Task Force which held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja restated the desire of the Federal Government to open up the aviation industry from this Saturday.
Sirika used the forum to reveal the strict new conditions/guidelines which the PTF has put in place to ensure that the resumption of international flights does not create room for a spike in Covid-19 pandemic.
According to him, “International flight operations will resume on Saturday, September 5, starting with Lagos and Abuja Airports. We have put mechanism in place to safeguard air travellers and ensure that airport users are safe at all time”.
The Minister listed some of the guidelines to be observed by passengers to include strict compliance to all health protocols just as returnees must have 96 hrs valid Covid-19 Free Certificate.
Sirika also revealed that Covid-19 test of more than 4 days will not be accepted from intending passengers even as he said that airlines that board passengers without PCR test results will be sanctioned and fined upto $2,500 and may further be barred from entry into Nigeria territory.
Also, foreign passengers who entered Nigeria without a valid Covid-19 Free Certificate risk deportation and a period of 7 to 14 days in isolation center.
The Minister disclosed that passengers are to fill online health declaration form on-board aircraft henceforth while formal screening of passengers will be conducted before boarding and airlines that board passengers without PCR test results will be sanctioned heavily.
Passengers who will come into Nigeria are to present themselves on return to Nigeria for Covid-19 test just as private laboratories will be allowed to forward results of Covid-19 test to the relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, the Aviation Minister revealed that some air carriers have been barred from entry into Nigeria during this first phase of resumption of international flights in and out of Nigeria.
Some of the airlines restricted from operating from Lagos and Abuja Airport are: Royal Dutch Airline (KLM), Air France, Royal Air Maroc, Rwanda Air, South Africa Airlines, Air Namibia, etc.
However, starting from Saturday, September 5, airlines allowed to operate from Lagos Airport are Air Peace Airline, British Airways, Delta Airline, Emirates Airline, Turkish Airlines AWA-Ghana, Egypt Air, etc.
Also, airline to operate from Abuja are Turkish Airlines, BA, Emirates, Middle East Airlines. Qartar, Ethiopian, Virgin Atlantic, etc.