Ahead of the June 21 planned resumption of domestic air operations in Nigeria, which was shut down by the Federal Government as part of the measures to curtail the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Capt. Ado Sanusi, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, one of the oldest carriers in Nigeria said airline in the country would be ready to go back to the skies at the scheduled time. Aero is one of the airlines managed by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Sanusi who was on Channels Television Tuesday evening said airlines would be fully ready but warned that there is need for caution because some of the protocols such as disinfecting the aircraft must conform with international best standards and must be guided by the input of the aircraft manufacturers.
According to him, aviation is highly regulated and so Nigeria must be careful when it come to aviation business. He said the aircraft that have been idle since March are not the same as parking a car for too long and one day you jump into the car, start it and move.
He said, “We must be careful when we are restarting. It is not like parking a car for long and then jump into the car, start it and drive. Yes we have some protocols that needs to be done but in every contest we (Aero) are ready to start anytime from now and I believe most of the airline too have gone far in all the protocols the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority wants us to do.
Most of them are trainings and some kind of manuals that we need to do and some are also are the acquisition of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that we need to have for the crew and some are reviewing the procedures that we need to do during check in and disembarking as well as disinfecting the aircraft to get them ready for takeoff.”
He said on Friday June 5, the Ministry of Environment will be at the airport to disinfect the airplanes. But as they do that he said, “We must look at what they will use to disinfect the planes because it must be in confirmation with what the manufacturers say we can use to disinfect inside the airplane. So we are in talks with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Federal Ministry of Environment and telling them that the chemicals the ministry is going to use to disinfect the airplanes must be approved by the manufacturers, because we are also governed by the manufacturers and we do not want to use anything that would affect the safety of the airplane.”
On social distancing inside the airplane, the Aero Managing Director said it would not be realistic to achieve social distancing inside a single-aisle plane but said operators should focus their attention to ensuring that all protocols at the airport and in the aircraft are strictly followed in line with short/domestic flights as recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
He said if that was done, the possibility of contracting COVID-19 inside the airplane would be minimized to zero.