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Passengers want sustainability of COVID-19 protocol as flights resume

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Passengers queue to board a flight from Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, to Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, after the resumption of domestic flights operation yesterday. PHOTO: NAN


After three months, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, resumed commercial operations on a slow note yesterday. Except for some VIPs shuttles, the nation’s airspace was on lockdown since March 30.

By 9:00a.m. yesterday, passengers started trickling in their numbers to board the 11:00a.m. Arik flight to Lagos. As required, they complied with the safety protocols at the entrance of the terminal building by first washing their hands under running water, followed by usage of hand sanitiser, after which their luggage were disinfected, and their temperature checks were done, among other health measures.

Airport officials were strategically positioned to ensure passengers complied with all the protocols, including observing social distancing. There were bold inscriptions across the airport insisting that passengers must at all times use their face masks.

An ex-president of Ijaw Youth Council, Udenga Eradiri, while speaking with The Guardian, gave kudos to airport officials for the arrangement in place, but said: “As it is now, you will see officials doing the usual eye service. After a week or more, the whole thing will likely fade away. The issue is: how will this checks be sustained?”

He added: “By the end of the week, you will see the usual touting and cutting of corners Nigerians are used to. To sustain this process requires discipline. Once leaders show discipline, Nigerians will follow suit. Being a former commissioner in Bayelsa State, I am used to how an average Nigerian operates. At first, it would appear as if everything is working, but come and check them again some weeks later.” Another passenger who landed on Max Air from Lagos described the travel experience as “very pleasant, without any problem. Everybody was generally nice today.”

A passenger, Olawale Tosin, waiting for the 1:00p.m. Ibom Airline flight, commended the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for the COVID-19 protocols put in place at the airport, but bemoaned the insincerity of airlines to their flight times.

He expressed skepticism that things might return to the old order after the pandemic, lamenting that his 9:00a.m. flight was shifted to 1:00p.m.
“I got a text message from the airline that the flight has been rescheduled. I feel so disappointed because I will not be able to meet up with my 12noon meeting,” he said.

He added that airlines had to be in tune with the international best practices by providing actual flight timetables as information of a reschedule is usually sent very late, leaving passengers stranded and frustrated.

Another passenger, Anan, also applauded the COVID-19 protocols at the airport. He, however, said: “It is too early to assess the situation, as it is very important they sustain the process and by the time there is upsurge in passenger traffic, I wonder how they will cope, because navigating into the terminal building take a while. Let’s see how they sustain this.”

This sentiment was also expressed by Chioma Okoh, who stated: “I am positive about what I am seeing, but we hope this will not be because it is the first day of flight resumption. We hope it is sustained for a longer period until we are sure we are able to return to our normal life.”


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