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Passengers to arrive airport three hours before flight

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• As FAAN Conducts Simulation Exercise
Ahead resumption of flights, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has conducted simulation exercise at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja to test all the protocols designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at airports. 

There are indications that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 will announce the new resumption date for domestic flights during the week after three months of airport closure. 

The simulation exercise, which began around 8 am, saw passengers go through all the protocols before boarding an Aero Contractor flight at about 11:20am. The flight was operated on a B737 marked NG110, with 51 passengers on board. 

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The airport authority has already put 1.5m physical distance markings in the terminal building to ensure social distancing, as well as in wash areas and bag disinfecting areas. Hand sanitisers were placed in strategic locations, even as Port Health workers were seen taking temperature of passengers, as they mandated them to always follow all protocols. 

At the exercise, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said it was undertaken to ensure passengers maintain physical distance from one another, wear face mask or face shield, maintain proper hygiene, as well as ensure area surfaces are kept clean, and passengers sit in a clean environment. 

“All that has happened here is to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19, as well as ensure efficient facilitation of passengers, so that time is not wasted in adopting the new normal,” he said. 

Explaining that the COVID-19 protocols would still be announced before opening the airport, he said passengers must arrive airport three or five hours, as the case may be, before flight schedules, so as to get decontaminated. 

And in case a person suddenly falls ill at the airport, Sirika said as demonstrated in the mock exercise, the area would be immediately cordoned off and the sick taken away by health workers in PPE to a safe area. 

He said: “We began maintaining physical distance right from outside. All the markings are there, and we respected that. During the checking procedure, we were shielded from the check-in officials. We got our boarding passes and during boarding, we detached our boarding passes and dropped the other end without physical contact. So, contacts with people have been reduced for us to remain safe.

“There will also be social distancing in the aircraft. But new ideas are coming up on how to remain seated to make the carbon economical okay and to ensure we don’t infect one another. And we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable. WHO and ICAO have developed protocols of sitting arrangement.”

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