After several months of suspension of flight operations to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has approved the commencement of domestic flights services in Nigeria’s aviation sector.
The sector was earlier scheduled to reopen for domestic services on June 21 by the country’s civil aviation authority but was postponed to allow operators in the industry to adequately comply with the restart plan of the civil aviation agency.
According to newsbulletinng.com, National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu said domestic operations are allowed to open as soon as practicable but in line with existing international and local guidelines on covid-19.
He emphasized that passengers must arrive the airport 3 hours before flights to observe all the health protocols put in place by the airport authority.
“You must observe social distance, wear a face masks, wash your hands, sanitize it, your luggage must be disinfected, temperature taking and so on.”
He appealed to passengers to adhere strictly to the protocols for their own good and for the good of others.
Chairman of the PTF and the SGF, Boss Mustapha answering question on whether there will increase in airfares, said with the reality on ground, passengers should expect a review in airfares and other services at the airports.
He stated that with the increase in Passenger service charge, PSC, by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, by 100% it was clear that charges for services would no longer be the same including that of other government aviation agencies and private businesses in the industry.
Adding that with such review, less should not be expected from the airlines.
“Because that is the nature of what the covid-19 has thrust on the people and all over the world.”
Boss Mustapha stressed that the industry had been hard hit with loss of huge revenue due to no flight operations for over 3 months, adding that to recoup these losses both passengers and business owners would have to share the cost.
“And there is going to be maintenance of social distancing a bit of it inside the aircraft, if an aircraft has a capacity of 150 people, they might now be restricted to about a 100 or 75. Flying comes with a component of aviation fuel is one of it, salaries for the pilots and the cabin crew is one of it, services that are paid for to the aviation industry institutions. Every time you see a plane take off, there are attendant cost to that, who will bear the cost, it will be shared, the passengers will take part of it, the business owners will take part of the cost.”
“Because when you run at a loss, profit is the motivation if going into a business isn’t it, flying is not a social service, they will find a way of recouping their money, we must be prepared for this cost.
“As to whether government will help the Industry, I believe Friday, the aviation industry is one of the industry that is hard hit by this covid-19 because it is an industry that is design for moving people up and down and for the last 3 months they have not done anything.”
The SGF assured that the industry would benefit fully from the stimulus package being put together by the government to cushion the effect the pandemic had had on the industry.
“So I think as part of the intervention, government either through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN or the stimulus package in the economic sustainability plan of the N2.3 trillion, I believe that the aviation industry would have a part of that, how it is going to be administered the minister for aviation would be in a better position to explain how that would be administered.”
It will be recalled that during the dry run demonstration at the Lagos and Abuja airports Saturday last week, members of the Task Force, had expressed satisfaction with the health safety measures put in place by the industry to contain any spread of the pandemic.