With less than five days to commencement of domestic flights in Nigeria, preparations are in place to ensure that safety measures are adhered to during operations.
The Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, made this known in an interactive session with the Senate committee on aviation on Thursday.
Top among such measures, he said, is the restriction of aides of Very Important Personalities(VIPs) or politicians into the airport.
Those who have no business traveling would not also be allowed to enter the airports as domestic flights operations resumes, he noted.
“They will not enter the airport, not at all, so any body coming into the airport, this time around as a personality, a minister or even our honourable members,distinguished senators will not be carrying their aids into the airports any longer.
“We will provide for all their security for the VIPs and the VIP gets in and travel. So the VIPs should help us and take responsibility, and ensure that they don’t add to our problems in this country.”
He said no need for panic as the airports authorities are committed to ensuring the provision of necessary safety protocols of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Increase in fare
The minister was however, skeptical about responding to questions regarding the “planned” increase in flight fare by various domestic airline operators.
“Price is not in my hand but like I said from what we put in place, I do not think that anything significant will happen to affect the propensity to fly,” he said.
When asked about the implication of planned social distancing protocol on air fare since those with 300 capacity will be reduced to 150, he said before the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the flights were not always full and that his ministry is working with the airlines to come up with the protocols before the opening .
Some air travellers have expressed fear of price hike upon resumption. And major airlines like Arik Air, have effected 25 per cent increase in its fare from Abuja to Lagos and vice versa.
On his part, the Director General of the Nigerian civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said it would not approve any airline or service provider to commence flight operations until it fulfills and comply with every international guidelines and protocols provided by the international civil aviation authority.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi, (APC, Kogi West ) said the interactive session was designed to find out steps been taken by the ministry and aviation authorities to ensure safety of passengers as the airports reopens.
He also said the meeting was also meant to get details on the demands of aviation workers who had earlier complained on non payment of their salaries.
The Abuja and Lagos airports are expected to resume domestic operations on July 8, while Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri will resume on the 11th and other airports will resume on 15th.