On the 17th of May, the aircraft left Cadjehoun Airport in Cotonou at exactly 11:48WAT and landed Murtala International Airport at exactly 12:14WAT. Two Hours, Eleven Minutes after arrival, the Honourable Minister of Aviation announced the breach in operational approval of the flight, hence the aircraft was grounded.
The worry in the minds of aviation stakeholders is that the two flights operated into Nigeria airspace within 24hrs brought in passengers that were not declared till now and their COVID-19 status unknown.
Considering the effort of the Federal government, through the Presidential Task Force, which the Honourable Minister of Aviation is a member, to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, then it became imperative to know the identity of the passengers that was brought into the country on the 16th and 17th of May and further subjected to isolation.
However, it was gathered that the crew of the flight has been quizzed and quarantined for the next 14days while investigation into the flight proceeds. Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID 19,the minister said” we believe that the whole essence of lockdown is to ensure there is no movement of person freely, because this COVID-19 happened because someone travelled and brought it in. So this shouldn’t happen”
“We are investigating the matter right now. It will finish very soon, the pilots will be subjected to 14 days quarantine while investigation goes on. The aircraft is impounded in Lagos and the crew are British nationals. Humanitarian flights are flights operated solely for humanitarian purposes and has received waivers recently in the Nigeria airspace due to Movement of relief materials and personnel as it pertains to COVID-19 pandemic.
It may be recall that Nigeria airspace was shut to international flights on March 21st in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19.