With the planned resumption of international flights barely days away, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says the activities of airlines operating international flights will be closely monitored to prevent the importation of coronavirus cases in the state.
The governor, who made this known on Saturday while briefing the press at the State House, Marina, stressed that not all airlines would be allowed to operate come September 5.
He said the state government was working with the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 as well as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to perfect plans for the resumption of international flights at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu said, “In the course of the week, I will be receiving the management of FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) in my office so that we will review and go over what they have. I will also be going to the airport myself to take a spot assessment in the week to ascertain the physical level of preparedness at the airport so that we will be clear and we will all be on the same page as well as ensure all the protocol that we need for adequate compliance are in place.
“Going by what is being worked out, there is going to be a phased in-flow of international travels, not all the airlines will be opened up at once, we are are going to be bringing them in based on a schedule per week. So, it is pretty much like a measured number. That way, we can actually be able to deal with it.
“Also, the times of arrivals, we will ensure that there are no crowding and backflow of issues. We are working on all these.”
“We noticed that imported cases were beginning to appear again, meaning some foreigners were coming in, so, we needed to be able to track and monitor and be sure that once we are able to manage our own internal affairs, so we do not have imported cases. So, the protocol for wherever they are coming from and also in the country must be strictly adhered to so that we don’t have imported cases,” he emphasised.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that Nigeria’s index case of the novel virus, an Italian businessman, flew a Turkish Airlines flight into the Lagos airport from Milan, Italy, having transited through Istanbul, Turkey.
The country’s airspace and airports were subsequently shut to flight operations in March to curb the spread of the lethal disease which as of Friday has killed over 1,000 people in Nigeria.
Essential flights such as those for evacuation and movement of medical supplies were, however, permitted during the period before the PTF okayed the resumption of domestic flights on July 8.
But speaking at a PTF briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt Musa Nuhu, said international flights would resume from September 5.
He noted that only the MMIA and the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, would be reopened for international travels.
Nuhu, who represented the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said, “Now we have fixed a date – 5th of September to ensure the resumption of international flights.”
The PTF had also warned that airlines that fail to comply with the Covid-19 protocol for the resumption of international flights would pay a fine of $3,500 per passenger.