By Lawani Mikairu
Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu yesterday said only four or five Airports may be opened for domestic flight operations when the ban on the flight is eventually lifted by the federal government.
Nuhu disclosed this while speaking during the Webinar organized by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) titled COVID-19: “The Challenges and Opportunity for Nigeria’s Aviation Value Chain, During and Post”.
According to him, air transport must be safe and not become a means of spreading the Corona Virus. He also said that physical distancing is an issue that the regulatory body is still discussing because of the suggestion of leaving the middle seat of every flight vacate.
The NCAA DG said: “ We may resume domestic operations with four or five airports and we expand as we get better. We don’t want to rush everything at the same time and get it choked up. If you do that, ( there will be ) extra expenses and airlines need money. Every money is important and we cannot achieve the 2 meters physical distance but we are hopeful in the next few days we can resolve that”.
He also revealed that his team has discussed what the sub-sector ( airlines, ground handlers, service providers, etc) need and forwarded to the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika for approval .” We have made our suggestion and recommendations and we are awaiting feedback. We may not get all we requested as you know but we are hopeful”, he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Authority, NAMA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, said there is hope for the aviation sector. ” Aviation survived the security challenges of 9/11 and I believe we will survive COVID-19″, he said.
He also empathized with the airlines stating that forex is high and need for training, spare parts, maintenance, and a lot of other key factors stressing that airlines will be the ones absorbing these costs and other airport charges.
The NAMA MD also agreed with the NCAA DG on reopening domestic operations with four or five Airports. He said that Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt airports can first be opened, while the government faces the challenges and make out plans to ensure others are opened.