By Chinedu Eze
Dana Air has offered the federal government aircraft and crew in support of its fight to contain the spread of COVID-19 and treat existing cases.
In a letter signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Jacky Hathiramani to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the airline said it was prepared to ferry medical equipment and relief materials to different states and locations where they are needed within the country.
According to him, Dana Air would make available resources, aircraft in its fleet and crew for the national assignment and the airline’s crew would be more than ready to carry out the assignment upon request. Hathiramani said, ”This is a global issue and this is the time for us to play our part by supporting the government’s effort in stemming the further spread of this pandemic.
”I am not too comfortable with the rising number of cases in Nigeria and this is why we took the decision to suspend our flight operations for 14 days in the interest of our staff, our customers and the nation at large. The support we are offering as an airline will only be an addition to the efforts of the government in fighting the pandemic.
”We commend the efforts of the Ministry of Aviation, the Aviation agencies, Lagos State and the Federal Government and wish to reassure them of our commitment towards contributing our resources to enhance prompt response to the fight against the spread of this virus.”
Meanwhile, the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) yesterday turned back a British Airways flight BA65, which left London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Nairobi, the nation’s capital.
The Boeing 777-200ER G-RAES aircraft turned back near Frankfurt, Germany and returned to LHR after it was denied access to land. It is unclear if the plane was empty and if it came to evacuate British citizens.
The aircraft’s pilot told the air traffic controller on ground that he received a message saying that the Kenyan authorities denied the aircraft access to land.
“We had a message the Kenyan authorities have denied us access to their airspace,” the pilot said.
The National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) in Nairobi had on March 22nd, issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) stating that international flights into Kenya would be suspended on March 25th at 23.59 hours.
The Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) then issued a statement on its Twitter handle shortly after, saying that all flights entering the country before March 25, would be banned except cargo flights in which case, the crew will be expected to self-isolate within designated airport hotels.
“Only cargo flights will be allowed into the country, with the crew expected to self-isolate within designated airport hotels. Emergency flights are exempted from the suspension.
“Evacuating flights into the country are allowed before midnight, March 25th, provided they come in empty for that purpose,” KCAA said.