FG says domestic flights may resume from June 21, lists conditions, says arrangements would be made regarding interstate travel
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has listed some conditions which are currently being considered before the final reopening of domestic flights following weeks of lockdown.
The Minister noted that although the aviation sector is the worst hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, caution must be taken to ensure reopening is very orderly and organised, “so that we will achieve the intent and purpose of air travel which is safety, efficiency and security.”
Sirika who listed the conditions for reopening at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, daily Press Briefing on Monday said, technical and health factors will be considered for domestic flights to prepare to resume operations June 21, following the directive of the Federal Government.
“Regarding the tentative date for reopening of domestic flights from 21st of June, the explanation is that, this is an industry that is highly regulated, it borders on safety and efficiency”.
“On the technical aspect, there are aircraft that have been parked for a few months and not been run. We want to ensure that between now and that time, these aeroplanes are good and safe to fly”.
“The maintenance for aircraft is either usage or calendar time and there are protocols to the use of such aircraft. So, the airline industry needs to be able to bring those machines to safe operations,” he said.
Sirika added that on the issue of flight crews and carrier crew, efforts are being made to ensure that they get their licence valid again for operations.
He noted further that the medical aspect also needs to be considered as every pilot has a licence which must state that he is fit and able to carry out operations.
According to the Aviation Minister, even the airport needs to be prepared to adopt the new way of life which must reflect social distancing.
“Even the airport where all of these activities will be done needs to be prepared to get ready to accept this new way of air travel,” Sirika said.
The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, however noted that once domestic flights resume then arrangements would be made regarding interstate travel because “you cannot have a ban on interstate travel and you have people flying from one state to another”.
He however asked the aviation sector to begin to develop protocols that will lead to the resumption of domestic flights any time from June 21.
“When we say from June 21, we mean that we are preparing the aviation sector towards that date. That date may not necessarily be June 21, it could be June 26, 28 or even July 1.
“It depends on whether or not they are prepared. So we are giving them a time frame of three weeks to start preparing for domestic flights.