After about three months of restriction due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, four local airlines yesterday started domestic flight operations from the Lagos airport.
The airlines include Air Peace, Arik Air, Max Air and Ibom Air.
As early as 5am, passengers were seen driving into the Lagos airport terminal to commence boarding formalities.
There were rigorous checks by airport officials, even as social distancing was strictly enforced.
On arrival, all passengers were made to sanitise their hands, just as their temperatures were checked and their baggage disinfected before going into the terminal to queue for boarding.
The restart commenced with Arik Air’s 7am Lagos-Abuja flight with about 50 per cent load factor.
Although the flight was scheduled for 7am, it actually took off at about 7:16am. The passengers boarded from the General Aviation Terminal 1 (GAT) under the supervision of officials of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other airport officials.
Assessing the level of compliance, spokesman for Arik Air, Mr Banji Ola told LEADERSHIP that he was satisfied with the passenger traffic, the orderliness and their cooperation.
Mr Banji also disclosed that, the last two flights of the day would have more passengers than the numbers recorded in the morning, based on the number of tickets sold so far.
Meanwhile, Air Peace had urged its customers to embrace online booking and check-in, employing its user-friendly Mobile App, as a means of minimising physical contact.
Speaking on the restart, the airline’s spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, disclosed that Air Peace has put in place reliable measures to protect both passengers and staff pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight, adding that the flying public need not worry but comply with all health protocols.
He said the airline has thoroughly disinfected all its aircraft and the flight crew are current as well as COVID-19 conscious.
“If your temperature reads above 37 degrees, you’ll be denied boarding. No loitering on the aisle of the aircraft. Hands must be sanitised and no more meals on board. This is to reduce crew-passenger contact. Flying will be somewhat different but we can guarantee your safety”, he aaded
Although Dana Air was not part of the flight restart that commenced yesterday, the carrier stated that it will resume its domestic flight services today, 2020.
The airline further assured that it will operate three daily flights from Lagos to Abuja and back, while the date for the addition of Port Harcourt and Owerri will be announced later.
The chief operating officer of Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo, while speaking on the preparedness of the airlines said, “Dana Air is ready to fly safely again from the 9th of July. We have worked round the clock with the NCAA to achieve this safe resumption of flights and we are introducing other initiatives soon in line with the present realities and the need to minimize contacts at the airport.
”We have disinfected all our aircraft, provided all our staff with the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been made available at our check-in, boarding gates and onboard the aircraft for guests and we have an optimised cleaning protocol in place as recommended by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
We have also created a boarding strategy which will give our passengers some sense of safety onboard our aircraft.
”We are distinctly positioned to reduce the impact of the concerns you might have, starting from proper maintenance schedule, pre-flight cleaning and boarding, to in-flight service and disembarkation — all aspects of our flights have been optimised for the safety and well-being of our guests.
”To stay ahead, our guests are advised to book their tickets online, use our self-service at MMA2 or download the Dana Air app for booking and reservation. Also in line with the new health protocols at the airports, we have advised our guests to arrive at the airport at least three hours to their flight. They are also required to wear a face mask at the airport and onboard our flights.”
Similarly, Nigeria’s oldest carrier, Aero Contractors said that it scheduled to start flight operation also today.
The airline said that it chose to resume flight service a day after the official restart date in order to stagger flight schedule to ensure that airport facilities were not stretched beyond COVID-19 protocol guidelines.
The management of Aero explained that contrary to some media reports that indicated the airline was denied approval to operate, it has received its approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and it would start operations today.
“Based on the protocol and NCAA regulation in cognisance of the new airport facilitation and COVID-19 protocols, we decided to restart our operation today in order to stagger the flight schedule. So we are inviting our esteemed customers who have enjoyed our service over the years to fly with us from today”, Aero management emphasised.