This Day (Lagos)

2 August 2014

Nigeria: NCAA Denies Ghana Banned Nigerian Flights Over Ebola

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has denied that Ghana has banned flights from Nigeria over Ebola virus that is ravaging some countries in West Africa.

The General Manager, Public Affairs of the organisation, Fan Ndubuoke told THISDAY last night that the regulatory authority did not receive any circular from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) or any government agency about any ban.

Also the Deputy Managing Director and Head of Flight Operations of Arik Air, Captain Ado Sanusi told THISDAY last night that Arik Air has been operating into and out of Ghana, adding that the airline's flight operated yesterday evening to Accra, Ghanaian capital and another flight was scheduled today from Lagos to the neighbouring country.

Last week government of The Gambia announced a ban on all flights emanating from West African destinations as a step towards preventing Ebola disease from being brought into the country.

Patrick Sawyer, 40, the only person who died of the disease in Nigeria was an American who flew from Monrovia in Liberia to Ghana, where he spent 45 minutes and from there to Lome and from Lome to Lagos, Nigeria where he collapsed and was taken to hospital where he died. The late Sawyer was flown into Nigeria by Asky Airline that operates to 22 destinations in West and Central Africa.

Since the death of Sawyer, Nigeria has not recorded any death from the disease. The country has put up measures at the airports to ensure that passengers expressing any ailment are thoroughly checked before being allowed to come into the country.

Nigeria and Ghana have strong economic and political relationship which a ban in flights and other movements between the two countries will hurt severely.

Meanwhile, NCAA has lifted the suspension placed on Asky Airlines after it had taken satisfactory measures to ensure no Ebola victim is flown to Nigeria.

While suspending the airline on July 28, 2014, NCAA said it was to protect Nigerians from the deadly Ebola virus which is ravaging some parts of West Africa and after it was learnt it was Asky that airlifted Sawyer to Lagos.

NCAA last night explained that it decided to airlift the ban because Asky has suspended all flights to Sierra Lone and Monrovia indefinitely and was prepared to cooperate and collaborate with the Authority's programmes in preventing the scourge of Ebola in Nigeria.

NCAA also noted that the airline was working with other civil aviation authorities in the region to implement series of actions to alleviate the spread of the disease.

The NCAA in the letter lifting the suspension said, "Having carefully examined these measures put in place by your airline, especially the suspension of flights into Ebola infected countries, the management of NCAA has lifted the temporary suspension placed on your flights into and out of Nigeria."

The regulatory authority therefore warned the airline to ensure continuous adherence to all the necessary measures which "you have pledged to take concerning the pandemic.

Asky Airline which started operation four years ago is a subsidiary of Ethiopian Airlines and operates to 22 destinations in West and Central Africa.

It is an important player in the West Coast, operating many flights into Lagos and Abuja weekly.

The Airline flew the Liberian who was obviously infected with the virus into Lagos, Nigeria an incident that has created panic and diverted world attention to Nigeria.

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