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Ministry of Aviation Conducts Test Flight Ahead of Airport Reopening

by John Asama
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The Federal Government on Saturday conducted a flight simulation exercise ahead of the resumption of domestic flights in the country.

The exercise commenced around 8am, as passengers went through the stipulated protocols before boarding an Aero Contractor flight at about 11:20am.

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

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

For about three months the country’s airspace had been shut to commercial flights both locally and internationally due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, 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 on Saturday, it was observed that passengers maintained about two metres distance apart from each other while boarding after Port health workers checked the temperatures of the travellers.

Sirika, however, said he is not completely satisfied with the safety requirements at the airports.

He said, “I am not 100 per cent satisfied but I am 90 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.

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“The remaining one which is about 5 per cent or so is to see surface cleaning ready and continuous. That would happen once we start. We are ready with the chemicals and so on. The other one is the baggage claim. This is a dry run, I am 90, 95 per cent happy.”

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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