The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Saturday, 27 June held dry run simulation exercises at the domestic terminals of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, respectively.
FAAN has been conducting a dry run of flight operations as domestic airlines prepare to resume commercial flights.
The exercise, which was aimed at assessing the readiness of the airports for reopening post Covid-19 was witnessed by the Ministers of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, and Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, the National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force, Dr Aliyu Sanni, the Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, Chairman, Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, among other stakeholders, also witnessed the event.
The simulation exercise began in Abuja as passengers were taken through the Post Covid-19 departure protocols en route Lagos on a Boeing 737 Aero Contractors flight. The team from Abuja arrived at the General Aviation Terminal, Lagos at about 1200hours. Passengers on board the flight were facilitated in line with the normal procedural order of arrival facilitation.
In his remarks, the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika expressed his delight at the level of facilities on ground. He added that going by the measures that have been put in place, the airports are about 90% ready to reopen.
According to Senator Sirika, domestic passengers will now have to get to the airports like three hours before departure, while international passengers would be expected to get to the airports about five hours before their flight. This is to ensure that all protocols, including safety markings, social distancing, hand sanitizing, baggage decontamination, scanning of personal items, etc. are complied with forthwith.
The team from Abuja also went through the departure protocols, signalling the end of the exercise.
Nigeria’s plan to reopen its local airports for operations on 21 June was cancelled due to multiple hurdles posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a precondition for reopening the airports, aviation experts say there is a need for the government to ensure the proper provision of protective equipment and other protocols, including the re-certification of pilots, airworthiness of the aircraft, and payment of the workers’ salary, among other issues that are currently being raised by aviation sector operators.
Aviation workers union had said that there was a need for special financial intervention as its members have not been paid since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Industry insiders say a definite date of the reopening of the airports will be announced before the end of June.
The Nigerian government shut down airports for commercial flight operations on 23 March as part of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Kola Tella with FAAN press statement