The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has asked aviation authorities and airline operators to begin the process for the restart of international flights.
With the reopening of domestic airports for local flights in July after about four months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, travellers had been in high hopes for the resumption of international flights.
The PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, during a briefing on Thursday in Abuja, said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and other agencies, as well as airlines, should commence the process for the resumption of international flights.
According to Aliyu, passengers would arrive three hours before flights when the country’s airspace finally reopens for international operations.
He said, “Specific to air transportation, as you are aware, domestic flights have already resumed, the railway sector has also restarted. For international travel, we have made recommendations to the aviation industry to commence the process for reopening international airports provided all existing international and local Covid-19 protocol are in place.
“We have modified the protocol for passenger arrivals at the airports. Domestic passengers arriving at the airports are advised to arrive one hour before their flights and three hours before international flights – when this restarts.”
The national coordinator stressed that though the government would like to restart international flights to balance health concerns and economic recovery, the government also would like to do so in a safe manner.
“There may be additional infrastructure for some of the airports. What we want to do and we’ve made it very clear at the PTF is that we want to resume as soon as possible but in a safe manner and do not put at risk all that we’ve done to control this pandemic. Hopefully in weeks but not months,” he added.
Also, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the briefing, said the government was conscious of its decision and would like to reopen as soon as possible while working with other ministries, departments, and agencies of government.
The minister, who also lamented that thousands of jobs have been lost as a result of the pandemic, however, said international flights would resume in a safe manner but said no date has yet been fixed.