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Airline operators okay ban, seek flight restriction to Lagos, Abuja airports
#1
Airline operators okay ban, seek flight restriction to Lagos, Abuja airports

19 March 2020   |   


To complement the ban on flights from 13 countries, airlines operators yesterday urged the Federal Government to immediately restrict other international flights to two airports for proper scrutiny of a potential carrier of coronavirus disease.
The operators, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), okayed the Federal Government’s decision to restrict foreign nationals of countries that have been confirmed to have over 100 cases of the covid-19.
Among the countries whose flights have been restricted are China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Rising from a meeting with aviation regulatory bodies where the global spread pattern was reviewed, the stakeholders were unanimous that the Federal Government needed to be more proactive to prevent a major crisis in Nigeria.
The position was on the heels of more drastic control measures already taken by African countries like Ghana, Chad, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, South Africa, Guinea, Angola, Morocco, Tanzania, and South Africa that have earlier restricted flight operations from covid-19 endemic countries.

The chairman of the AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison, said Nigeria was about the only country in Africa yet to take decisive action in putting in place strict measures to stop the inflow of the virus into our shores.
“We can say for sure that if the situation escalates in Nigeria other countries of the world would not hesitate to stop us from flying into their country. We would like to appeal to the government to stand tall by putting Nigeria first at this time and take immediate action by restricting travel into Nigeria,” Meggison said.
He said by reducing entry points into the country to Lagos and Abuja airports only, it will allow for effective deployment of critical medical support staff and utilisation of thermal scanners and other resources as well as promote proper monitoring of those entering the country.
 



He, therefore, called for an immediate action to reduce the number of entry points into the country so as to be able to effectively control the influx of people into the country, as AON members are willing to offer their services to distribute travellers around the country from the two entry points.
 
Furthermore, the AON Chairman called on the Ministry of Aviation to take a cue from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by directing the various agencies under its supervision to immediately put in place and extend critical palliative measures to Nigerian airline operators in order to reduce the burden of colossal loses they have suffered and continue to suffer from the impact of the virus on air travel.    



“Just yesterday, March 16, 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a statement acknowledging the adverse impact of the virus on the global and Nigerian economies and announced a moratorium of one year on all principal repayments of intervention loans effective March 1, 2020; reduced interest rates from 9 to 5 per cent per annum for one year; and created an N50 billion targeted credit facility to cushion the impact of the virus on businesses.
“Similarly, we use this medium to call on the Aviation agencies through the Federal Ministry of Aviation to follow the same path by taking action to support domestic airlines that are the drivers of our national economy.

 
“Nigerian airlines are suffering heavily from the impact of the coronavirus issue as the passenger numbers have dropped drastically and our overheads remain the same on many fronts and even increasing significantly on other fronts. Like we all know, Nigerian airlines trade-in Naira but we do our business in Dollars and the Naira has come under pressure since the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.


Aviation Security Consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said the operators’ request align with his earlier advise, saying that there is no sacrifice too big to safeguard the health and well-being of all Nigerians at this time of global health emergency.

Ojikutu said if the airports do not have enough medical manpower to properly check travellers, then the preventive measure is to reduce access to Lagos and Abuja airports.

“If we don’t have the requisite skilled manpower for both health and national security standard checks, then close the international airports to just two. Move the number of workforces available to Lagos and Abuja airports. That alone would give the market to our own local airlines to distribute to others and protect us all.

“It is an international crisis that should not involve us, but it will if we are not very careful. We cannot afford to open all our airports to everybody and expect to monitor them properly. What we need is a well-trained workforce, not all these untrained people in our airports begging for money. The agencies have a responsibility to protect us and it is most crucial now,” Ojikutu said.
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#2
Quote:

Major Blow For Foreign Airlines As FG Shuts Abuja, Lagos Airport In A Few Days


The 33 foreign airlines operating flights into Nigeria may suffer a major blow as the Federal Government says it will in a few days shut the international wings of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt Musa Nuhu, in a statement on Thursday announced the closure of the three other international airports in the country, namely Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, and the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, thereby restricting international flights to only Lagos and Abuja airports.

The statement noted that the closure would be till further notice effective 12am today. It noted that this was part of precautionary measures taken by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus.

On Friday, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, told journalists in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, would make the announcement at the appropriate time.

But speaking on Friday, the minister said the Federal Government planned to close every gap that could further spread the COVID-19 in the country.

He said, “Yes, we are going to shut all international airports. Domestic operations will not be disrupted. The shutdown will be in a few days, just to allow the necessary ‘Notice to Airmen’ to be issued accordingly.”

Consequently, the 33 foreign airlines operating flights into Nigeria, according to the statistics from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, might take a financial hit following the closure.

Some of the foreign airlines expected to be affected are British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, AirFrance, KLM, Delta Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, South African Airways, Kenyan Airways, Rwandair, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Royal Air Maroc and Africa World Airlines.

Data from the NCAA showed that from January to December 2019, the foreign airlines recorded 15,474 flights into the five international airports in Nigeria with an average of 298 flights weekly.

This is coming barely 24 hours after the International Air Transport Association said the disruption to air travel due to the continued spread of coronavirus would cost Nigeria’s aviation industry over N160.58bn (using Bureau de Change rate of N370 to $1) ($434m) in revenue and 22,200 jobs.

IATA, which is an umbrella body for 290 airlines globally, added that Nigeria would also lose approximately 2.2 million passengers, adding that the spread of the virus would negatively impact the aviation industry worldwide.

Efforts to reach the President, Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, Mr Kingsley Nwokoma, on Friday night, were not successful.

But earlier in the week, he said the industry had been passing through a very difficult time since the outbreak of the disease.

Nwokoma said there was slow traffic, cancellation of flights, and reduction in cargo traffic.

“When it started, it was like a joke and we all thought it will soon pass away; cargo and aviation generally have taken a big hit,” he said.

He said cargo warehouses had become empty as most shipments were from China.

The NCAA DG had said in his statement that the directive was as a result of the Federal Government’s travel ban on 13 countries, which rose to 15 countries following the addition of Sweden and Austria on Friday.

The government by the directive restricted entry for travellers from the countries, but noted that Nigerians, diplomats and foreigners resident in the country travelling from the listed countries would be subjected to supervised self-isolation for 14 days after arrival.

https://punchng.com/coronavirus-major-blow-for-33-foreign-airlines-as-fg-shuts-abuja-lagos-airports-in-few-days/

[Image: 11239611_mmia_jpegdacf13207b184be1a620606cc1ed036c]
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