By Dirisu Yakubu
Ahead of the imminent lifting of restriction on air travel in the country, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, yesterday, conducted a simulation exercise at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja. This was done to test safety protocols designed to contain the spread of COVID-19 at the airports.
The simulation exercise which began in the morning saw passengers go through all the protocols before boarding the Aero Contractor flight at about 11:20am. The flight was operated on a B737 marked NG110 with 51 passengers on board.
The exercise involved 1.5m physical distance markings, two hand wash areas and bags disinfecting area. Hand sanitizers were placed in strategic locations with port workers seen checking the temperature level of intending passengers.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said: “The flight simulation is to achieve five things: firstly, it is to maintain physical distance with with each other. Secondly, it is to wear protective materials such as face mask and face shield. Thirdly, it is to maintain hygiene; fourthly, it is to clean the area and surfaces and that is a function of the robot itself apart from identifying the passengers. Lastly, it is to also seat in an environment that is clean and hygienic.
“All the things that have happened here is to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19,” he explained.
He noted that the authorities “are ensuring efficient facilitation of passengers so that time is not wasted in adopting the new normal.
“We will announce all the protocols again before opening. But you need to be at the airport three hours ahead of your flight.
“The experience is quite nice but it takes a bit of time which is why you will need to be at the airport three hours before your local flight. For international flight, we may do five hours” he stated.
He summed up the simulation exercise this way: “We have demonstrated here in a mock manner, a sick person. You saw how the area was condoned off, the sick taken away to safe area and the scene disinfected. You saw the health workers in their PPEs come around to evacuate the sick person. All these is to adhere to the new normal.
“You also saw that if you are served tea or beverages, you pick it yourself in a disposable cup.
“Everything for me in this demo exercise worked very well. We came and began maintaining physical distance right from the 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 so we can remain safe” he further explained.
On the protocol inside the flight he said, “There will also be social distancing in the aircraft. Those new norms are coming and we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable.”