The Federal government of Nigeria has commenced the process of resumption of international air travel as it set up a National Air Facilitation Committee to work out the modalities for a safe resumption.
The Chairman of the Task Force, Boss Mustapha who disclosed this at media briefing, said all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies were collaborating to achieve this, bearing in mind the importance of international air travels to the economic development of the nation.
The PTF said that government was working tirelessly to establish the protocols that would guide the resumption of international air travels, especially as it relates to arrivals into the country
Speaking on the bodies that constituted the National Air Facilitation Committee, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika disclosed that the committee is made up of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA),
Airport Security Committee, Ground Handlers Association, Directorate of State Security Service (DSS), Freight forwarders association, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Committee and the Quarantine service.
The Minister who lamented that aviation was one of the worst hit by COVID-19 pandemic, however noted that a quick lifting of ban of international travel without adhering to the laid down protocols would amount to disaster.
He also bemoaned the harrowing experience and downturn in the economy of Nigeria and by extension, its impact on aviation which has made it extremely difficult for many organizations to pay salaries.
“The committee will meet today to further discuss the protocols for the re-opening. Certainly, aviation is worst hit with this. There must be passengers’ movement for us to be able to survive. We have said here on this here that salaries are becoming difficult for us to pay”
“So, we want to open more than you want us to open. We have been living with the question of when we are going to open. This is subject to so many factors and all of these sacrifices that we are making is in the interest of the public and the interest of all of us to fly safe”
The Minister also debunked insinuations that airspace in Europe and other places had re-opened saying it was not true that Nigeria was the one holding down the return of international operations.