The federal government of Nigeria has announced arrangements for resumption of international flights in the country. The resumption date was shifted from August 29 to September 5.
At a briefing of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, announced the arrangements for the resumption of flights. He said only the Nnamdi Azikiwe Iinternational Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, would reopen for international travels on September 5.
The Minister also announced the list of foreign airlines that are not approved to operate flights into the country. The list include Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Angolan TAG, Air Namibia and Royal Air Maroc.
He listed EgyptAir, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways and Middle East Airlines as airlines permitted to operate into the Lagos airport.
The minister also listed British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian, AWA, and Middle East Airlines as airlines allowed to operate into the Abuja airport, as reported by THISDAY Online.
This is coming as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) have issued Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to all airlines flying into and out of Nigeria and other stakeholders ahead of resumption of international flights.
Sen. Sirika said passengers who fail to comply with the COVID -19 protocol put in place to curb the importation of the virus would be suspended from traveling for six months while airlines that fail to comply would pay a fine of $3,500 per passenger.
The Minister’s Statement:
“Now, at this point, it is important that we announce the airlines that are allowed for operations into the country. The ones not approved are Air France. Middle East Airlines is approved for only Lagos (airport). British Airways (is) approved – allowed entry under COVID-19 protocol.
“The reason for Air France is that tourist’s business holders are not allowed entry. KLM not approved for the same reason as Air France. Delta Airlines, no restrictions – USA, we have an Open Skies with them and they also allow us in.
“Qatar Airways are allowed and approved under Covid-19 protocol. Etihad, not approved. Ethiopian Airlines allowed entry under Covid-19 protocol. Egyptair approved, allowed entry under Covid-19 protocol.
“Rwandair not approved. Air Peace, not applicable, they are our own carrier in Nigeria, we thank them. Virgin Atlantic, approved, allowed entry under Covid-19 protocol. Air Namibia, not approved. Asky, approved. Royal Air Maroc, not approved. African World Airways, Ghana, approved.
“Air Cote d’Ivoire, approved. Lufthansa, not approved. Kenya Airways approved. Emirates Airlines approved. Turkish Airlines approved. Cabo Verde not applicable as international flights are not resumed. Angolan TAG, not approved. South African Airways not applicable as international flights are yet to resume.”
Tickets Demand Rise
The demand for tickets for foreign trips has, however, surged as travelers eagerly await to resume their international engagements. This is despite the concern that the stringent conditions given to foreign travelers under the COVID-19 protocols, and the high cost of travel would discourage many people from travelling.
The immediate past President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) and the Group Managing Director of the biggest travel agency in Nigeria, Finchglow Limited, Mr. Bankole Bernard, who confirmed the development to THISDAY, however, expressed reservations over the conditions given to travelers, including the high cost of COVID-19 tests.
THISDAY gathered that while waiting for Nigeria to reopen the airports for international travels, many Nigerians had been traveling through the country’s neighbouring countries such as Equatorial Guinea (Malabo), Togo and Benin Republic.It was learnt that with the use of those alternative routes, the travel agencies had been selling tickets of international carriers despite the ban on international flights.
Bernard, however, said since the federal government announced its definite date for flight resumption, the demand for tickets has surged. He added that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also expressed happiness that flights would resume in Nigeria from tomorrow.
Now that Nigeria has announced arrangements for resumption of international flights in the country, we hope this will be a signal to the return of normalcy in the country.