Nigeria: International Flights Resume After 5 Months

6 September 2020

Lagos — The first scheduled international flight landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos on Saturday after the over five-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government had fixed September 5 for the reopening of airports for international flights starting with the MMIA and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.

Strict COVID-19 protocols were put in place by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in preparation for the reopening.

The federal government, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, released protocols for departing and arriving passengers, part of which was the negative PCR test.

As the airport reopened, the first flight operated by Middle East Airlines, ME 571 from Beirut, Lebanon, landed at the airport at about 2:18 pm with 222 passengers and 17 crew members.

However, Daily Trust on Sunday reports that there was no flight to Abuja yesterday while another British Airways flight was being expected at the time of filing this report.

The Regional Manager, South-West FAAN, Mrs. Victoria Shina-Aba, who spoke to journalists at the MMIA, said the airport was reopened exactly after five months and 13 days when it was closed to international flights.

Shina-Aba disclosed that during the flight ban, the airport processed 192 evacuation and special flights and 1,404 cargo flights.

She said a lot of measures had been put in place to boost the confidence of travelers and curb the spread of COVID-19.

On the various steps passengers would have to undergo, she advised departing passengers to come to the airport on time.

She said: "We have been able to demarcate the gates.

"The first gate is for crew and staff only.

"The B and C gates are for passengers.

"We have another gate for elderly and special people.

"At each of these gates, we have water provided for passengers to wash their hands.

"We have bag sanitising stations where passengers get their bags sanitized.

"Then the temperature of passengers is taken.

"At the passenger gate, we have infra-red cameras that can capture many people at the same time.

"If you try to access the place without face masks, it will indicate that your face mask is not on.

"We have signs everywhere telling people what to do.

"The security will not allow passengers without face masks in.

"We have sanitisers at the gates.

"If you have a temperature higher than the normal, the port health will take you to a place that has been provided just to sit down for a while and check you again after some minutes.

"If you are okay, you will be allowed to travel," she explained.

She said FAAN had done markings to ensure that social distancing protocol is observed while people should queue according to the markings and passengers.

She assured that FAAN staff are always on stand-by to disinfect objects that are touched by passengers regularly, adding that boarding is also done in batches.

Meanwhile, Emirates said it would resume passenger services to Lagos on September 7 and Abuja on September 9.

The resumption of flights to both Nigerian cities takes Emirates' African network to 13 destinations.

Flights to Lagos will operate four times a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, the airline said in a statement.

Flights to/from Abuja will operate three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, it said.

Similarly, Ethiopian Airlines would begin flights to Abuja on September 7 and Lagos on 8th, according to Tilahun Tadesse, an official of the airline in Nigeria.

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