Ahead of domestic flight resumption in Nigeria, the foremost airline in the country, Airpeace Limited, has ruled out the possibility of empty middle seat as a measure to enforce social distancing in-flight.
Speaking on a local Television in Nigeria, African Independence Television (AIT), the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the airline, Chief Allen Onyema said” Air peace doesn’t support the empty seat regime, it is going to bring the airline down quicker than expected”.
“Social distancing should be encouraged more within the airport vicinity, while checking in. When people are seated for a flight of 50minutes or 1hour, as we do in Nigeria, there is little or no interaction inside the aircraft”.
Speaking on the plans of Airpeace to ensure safe environment in-flight, the airline boss announced that they will be introducing staggered boarding where the window seat passengers will be allowed to board first while middle seat and aisle seat passengers board subsequently. According to him, this is to disallow the usual interaction that arise as a result of seat location and securing bags in the overhead stowage bin.
He further noted that the airline, in addition to the mandatory face mask by passengers, will be given out a complimentary face shield to all their passengers as a way of encouraging a safe environment in-flight.
While responding to the disapproval of the Canadian Government to allow the airline airlift Nigerian from Canada, Onyema said” Airpeace is an emerging force from out of Africa that is the true story. So if Canada in their own assessment feels at that point in time that we should not come in, they should not be criticise, that is their own country, they have taken their own decision”.
“Remember that they also said that Airpeace could apply for permanent flying into their country that it will take some few months to approve because to COVID-19. So when you put those two together you will know where I am coming from. I called all of that international aero politics” Onyema said.
He further support a call by the Nigerian airlines’ operator for intervention fund by the Nigerian government. However, he stated that Airpeace don’t want free money but the fund should be given on the conditionality of paying back within a timeline and should be on specific needs such as insurance, job retention and aircraft maintenance.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government of Nigeria recently lifts the ban on domestic flight operation effective July 8th from Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, and Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos while the Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Maiduguri airports will reopen to flights on the 11th July and other airports across the country will join on the 15th of July. International flights are however still remained restricted from operation until further notice.