Flight simulation holds Saturday, FG gets restart plan Wednesday

By abimiku • one year ago • 4692 views • 896 comments

 Okechukwu Nnodim and Joseph Olaoluwa

The Federal Government on Monday said it would carry out a simulation trial of domestic flight operations at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos on Saturday as it prepares to reopen the country’s airspace to commercial flights.

It also assured Nigerians that airfares would not be outrageously high as speculated by many, based on plans to begin the social distancing rule onboard flights.

This came as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority declared that it would submit the aviation restart plan to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Speaking at Monday’s briefing of the PTF in Abuja, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, doused concerns about a possible hike in airfares when commercial flights resume.

“Well, that (airfare hike) may not necessarily be the case, because as I speak to you, day in day out, we’ve been meeting with stakeholders in the industry to find out how best to open the industry,” he said.

He added, “So we are doing everything to ensure that tickets’ prices are not skyrocketed. They may be different but they will not be something that passengers cannot afford.”

On the preparedness to open the airports for Flights, he said, “Flight trials will be demonstrated on Saturday in Lagos airport ahead of the resumption of operations.”

In a similar development, the Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said during a stakeholders’ forum that the aviation sector restart plan would be submitted to the PTF  on COVID-19 on Wednesday, June 24.

“We are yet to get there but we are pretty close. The plan is that by Wednesday, we will submit our report to the PTF. I reiterate, we are pretty close,” he stated.

Nuhu noted that the authority did not need to have all the airlines, airports or the ground handlers ready before it restarts the system.

The NCAA boss also stated that the non-operation of commercial flights had dragged down the authority’s revenue by 90 to 95 per cent.

He said, “We are almost ready. Like I said earlier, not all the airlines and airports have to be necessarily ready before the restart. If anything goes wrong, the NCAA will be held responsible.

“Sometime this week, the proposed restart date will be made known. If the airports get it right, the airlines job will be made easier. The airlines that have disinfected their aircraft should show proof to NCAA.”

The Chairman, NCAA COVID-19 Committee, Godwin Balang, said the authority had to develop aviation restart guidelines on uncharted grounds, adding that it issued regulations in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation Standard and Recommended Practices.

Balang said, “Restart and recovery guidelines are based on 10 key principles which are to protect people in harmonised but flexible measures; and work as one aviation team and show solidarity.”

Others, according to him, include to ensure essential connectivity; manage safety, security and health related risks; and make aviation public health measures work with aviation safety and security systems; etc.

This came as the Area Manager, West Africa for the International Air Transport Association, Samson Fatokun, announced free training offer to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria in order assist FAAN with IATA’s expertise.

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