Nigerian domestic airlines have resumed flights to some airports in the country in line with Federal Government’s directive on the phased re-opening of the airports. The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, had announced that flights would resume at the Lagos and Abuja Airports on July 8, followed by flights at Owerri, Kano, PortHarcourt and Maiduguri Airports on July 11, while he said other airports in Nigeria would start receiving domestic flights from Junly 15.
The first flight operated by Arik Air departed Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, for Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 7:15am with 90 passengers onboard. Passengers arrived as early as 5am and went through the safety procedures put in place at the airports by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
On arrival, passengers’ hands were sanitized, their temperatures taken and luggage disinfected before accessing the terminal and thereafter proceeding to the airline counters at the airports.
Passengers boarded at Alpha Hall and Zulu Hall of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Lagos Airport, closely supervised by officials of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and FAAN, as well as the MMA Terminal 2 (MMA2) in Lagos.
Passengers adhered to the physical distancing protocols put in place by the FAAN which include the barricade at the check-in counters and markings on the floors, among others.
Mrs. Victoria Shina-Aba, FAAN South West Regional Manager, expressed delight at the restart of scheduled domestic flight operations in the country after three months of suspension. She noted that people are eager to travel as she expressed delight over the turn-up of passengers for the initial flights.
The Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Maiduguri airports reopened to flights on July 11, while other airports across the country will join from July 15.
Arik Air, Airpeace, Max Air, Ibom Air, Dana Air, Aero Contractors and Azman Air have all resumed operations, while Overland Airways has scheduled to restart operations on 15th of July.
It is expected that the gradual re-opening, beginning with the Lagos-Abuja route will serve as a test-case for flight operations in the COVID-19 era.