Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Flight simulation holds Saturday, FG gets restart plan Wednesday

The Federal Government on Monday said it would carry out a simulation trial of domestic flight operations at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos on Saturday as it prepares to reopen the country’s airspace to commercial flights.

It also assured Nigerians that airfares would not be outrageously high as speculated by many, based on plans to begin the social distancing rule onboard flights.

This came as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority declared that it would submit the aviation restart plan to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Wednesday. Speaking at Monday’s briefing of the PTF in Abuja, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, doused concerns about a possible hike in airfares when commercial flights resume. “Well, that (airfare hike) may not necessarily be the case, because as I speak to you, day in day out, we’ve been meeting with stakeholders in the industry to find out how best to open the industry,” he said.

He added, “So we are doing everything to ensure that tickets’ prices are not skyrocketed. They may be different but they will not be something that passengers cannot afford.”On the preparedness to open the airports for Flights, he said, “Flight trials will be demonstrated on Saturday in Lagos airport ahead of the resumption of operations.” In a similar development, the Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said during a stakeholders’ forum that the aviation sector restart plan would be submitted to the PTF on COVID-19 on Wednesday, June 24. “We are yet to get there but we are pretty close. The plan is that by Wednesday, we will submit our report to the PTF. I reiterate, we are pretty close,” he stated. Nuhu noted that the authority did not need to have all the airlines, airports or the ground handlers ready before it restarts the system.

The NCAA boss also stated that the non-operation of commercial flights had dragged down the authority’s revenue by 90 to 95 per cent.

He said, “We are almost ready. Like I said earlier, not all the airlines and airports have to be necessarily ready before the restart. If anything goes wrong, the NCAA will be held responsible.

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