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No going back on Sept. 5 Int’l flights resumption — Minister

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The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, says there is no going back on the September 5, 2020 date for resumption of international flights as all preparations have been completed.

Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja on Thursday, Sirika said all aviation preparations and COVID-19 protocols had been perfected and the airport was set for reopening.

The minister also revealed that Air France, Lufthansa, Ethihad airlines, Air Rwanda, Air Namibia, among others, were banned from coming into the country.

He, however, said that British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Qatar, Middle East, Turkish, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic were among the airlines approved for operations with appropriate COVID-19 protocols.

Sirika further noted that intending passengers must register online, pay for COVID-19 test fee and upload the COVID-19 negative result not older than 72 hours before boarding.

While warning against sharp practices, he said any airline caught with passengers without COVID-19 negative result would be fined $3500 for each passenger and the passenger returned if he or she was a foreigner.

Giving more insights into the reasons for the ban and the principle of reciprocity being applied to some countries, the minister said Nigeria was simply following what each country had done to the country.

The principle means all countries that have banned flights from Nigeria, will also have planes from their countries banned from entry into Nigeria.

Some of the countries which have already banned flights from Nigeria are in the European Union (EU) as the EU included Nigeria on the banned countries on the first of July, 2020 when they opened their airspace.

An inspection of the airport showed that all areas had been adequately marked for social distancing, with necessary signals placed across the airport.

Also, hand sanitisers, water for handwashing and all necessary non-pharmaceutical protocols had been installed at the airports in readiness for the resumption of flights.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, PTF on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, expressed worry over increasing cases of COVID-19 in Ethiopia and South Africa.

According to him, South Africa still has the highest case count in Africa but has fallen from the fifth to the sixth position in the world.

“In Ethiopia, the numbers have been on the increase.

“Both South Africa and Ethiopia are of interest to Nigeria in view of the passenger traffic between Nigeria and the two countries and our plans to reopen the international air space,” Mustapha said. (NAN)

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