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International flights may resume in October

By Wole Oyebade (Lagos) and Joke Falaju (Abuja)
22 July 2020   |   4:10 am
The Federal Government is considering resumption of international flights operations on or before October 15.

• Aviation workers flay unruly VIPs
The Federal Government is considering resumption of international flights operations on or before October 15.

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) cited yesterday, informed all foreign airlines and operators about resumption of flights not later than October 15.

In a related development, aviation workers under the aegis of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have condemned assaults and violation of safety protocol by some Very Important Persons (VIPs), describing the conducts as unacceptable.

The government had in March shut both local and international airspace as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus disease.

The directive, however, allowed a window of opportunity for non-commercial emergency, cargo and other special flights, subject to approval by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika. Following the resumption of local flights a fortnight ago, the government had planned to reopen the international end on August 19.

Sirika yesterday confirmed that the country would most likely re-open the airspace to international flights earlier than October.

The minister, on his twitter handle, explained that what was earlier announced to be re-opening of airspace to international flights for October 15, 2020, was the routine 90 days Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) by the airspace management agency.

He, however, stated that following consultation with ministries of health and foreign affairs as well as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic, “we will announce the agreed date, regardless of the ban by Europe, United Arab Emirates and others. It may be earlier than October”.

The NOTAM, which is information to all aviation personnel, especially flight operators and others that have roles to play in flight operations, stated: “The Federal Government of Nigeria has extended closure of our airports to all international flights with the exception of aircraft in a state of emergency.

“Approval may be requested and granted to overflights, operations related to humanitarian aids, medical relief flights, alternate aerodrome in the flight plan and also those being used for extended time operations.

“Also allowed are technical landings where passengers do not disembark, cargo flights and other safety related operations.”

President of NUATE, Ben Nnabue, expressed the union’s disapproval of the attitude of some highly placed Nigerians who use the nation’s airports, warning that any culprit would be declared persona non grata at all Nigerian airports.

Nnabue said the reported incident of unruly behaviour by Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara State, in which he allegedly assaulted an airport worker and prevented him from executing an important COVID-19 protocol of disinfecting his luggage, was abhorring and regrettable.