Nigeria announces date for resumption of domestic flights

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Nigeria, on Monday, announced that domestic flights would resume at all airports by Sunday, June 21.

To curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the federal government had suspended domestic flights in the country since March.

During the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Monday, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the resumption of flights will be purely premised on the implementation of the approved protocols for safe operations of the airlines.

According to a statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, James Odaudu, the next three weeks is to enable the operators “to adhere to all the necessary industry regulations, without which they cannot take to the skies after being dormant for some time.”

He said this is because aviation, unlike other sectors, is a highly regulated one.

On modalities for the operation of flights when they resume, Mr Sirika said consultations have been on and will continue between the ministry and industry ‘stakeholders’ on the best ways to operate profitably while at the same time ensure the safety of travellers.

He, however, cautioned owners of private aircraft “who have been in the habit of asking for permits to fly within the country despite the restrictions in place, to desist”.

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He said the restrictions are still in place, “except for those on essential services which have been clearly defined”.

He also said approval for flights on essential services are not paid for, “while it takes little or no time to grant such approvals.”

The minister also expressed gratitude for the cooperation of in the aviation sector in spite of their unquantifiable losses occasioned by the lockdown.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Nigeria’s aviation sector has reportedly been losing about N21 billion monthly.