NCAA Suspends Planned Resumption of Domestic Flight

  • Senate asks FG not to reopen five airports
  • No prisoner infected with COVID-19, says FG
  • WHO declares Nigeria polio-free


Deji Elumoye, Olawale Ajimotokan, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Chinedu Eze and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the planned resumption of domestic flights tentatively scheduled for Sunday, citing the continued restriction on interstate movements as reason.

The agency said there was no way domestic airlines could resume operations if people would not be able to move freely from one state to another.

The Senate also urged the federal government not to reopen five out of the airports shut in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, saying it will be suicidal to do so.

At a press briefing thursday in Abuja by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said NCAA would only commence local flights when it was safe to do so.

Sirika, represented by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, added that to force the resumption of flights when the agency is least prepared, could lead to a dangerous outcome for the industry, aside from enabling the spike in COVID-19 infections.

”To do otherwise, will be disastrous for us. If we open the flight when we are not ready and we are guilty of spreading coronavirus, God forbid, we have any incident, I believe the governors will come hard on us and it is going to be counter-productive and even will be disastrous for the industry,” he said.

According to him, NCAA will need more time to ensure that it is ready to start work.

He explained that the civil aviation regulator recently had a virtual meeting, attended by five stakeholders, to consider feedbacks from the industry and to respond to their concerns.

He added that the NCAA has been receiving inputs from international organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which ensures the standards and recommended practices for the aviation industry.

”The airports also have their high level task force on COVID-19, which also played a significant part. We have to adopt all this and you can be rest assured that the NCAA will only give the go-ahead when we are ready, nothing before then,” he added.
According to him, the resumption of domestic flights may now be towards the end of June.

Also speaking yesterday at Webinar session tagged, ‘Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Changing Times, Changing Strategies’, organised by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), Nuhu, who was represented by the Director of consumer Protection, NCAA, Adamu Abdullahi, said there would not be resumption of domestic flights without the relaxation of the interstate lockdown.


No Prisoner Infected with COVID-19, Says FG

Minister of Aviation, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has said no inmate and officers were infected by the virus in any of the custodial centres across the country.
He said the men and officers of the Nigeria Correctional Service deserved encomiums for their high sense of service and diligence and for succeeding in preventing any outbreak of the virus in spite of the congestion in the correctional facilities.

Senate Urges FG Not to Reopen Five Airports

The Senate thursday advised the federal government not to reopen five of the airports shut in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
The Senate Committee on Aviation, after an emergency meeting with leaders of the unions in the sector, led by the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, said it would be disastrous to reopen the airports now.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said based on serious issues raised by stakeholders in the sector as regards safety and security, the planned unlocking of the aviation sector should be postponed.

FG Worried over Violation of COVID-19 Protocols

Also speaking at the briefing, the National Coordinator of the PTF on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said the task force was concerned about the flouting of its guidelines and safety protocols by organisations and individuals.
Aliyu added that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is higher now than it was five weeks ago.

On his part, the Chairman of the PTF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, warned that the relaxation of lockdown should not be interpreted to mean otherwise, warning that the surge in new cases in China and USA should put all on the alert.

WHO Declares Nigeria Polio-free

WHO has also declared Nigeria polio-free, leaving the devastating disease endemic in only two countries of the world, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However, a renowned virologist and Chairman, Expert Review Committee on Poliomyelitis Eradication and Routine Immunisation, Prof. Oyewale Tomori has said the country must continue to vaccinate children against the virus until the remaining two affected countries in the world are declared free.

In a tweet to announce the feat yesterday, the WHO Nigeria @WHONigeria, said the country had completed documentation for wild polio virus-free status, and that the documentation has been accepted by the African Regional Certification Commission for polio eradication.

Sharing his thoughts on the feat, Tomori, who has been one of the scientists at the forefront of addressing the disease in Nigeria, said: “As long as there are other countries of the world with the virus, Nigerians must continue to vaccinate our children.”

FG Optimistic of End to Doctors’ Strike

The federal government has also expressed the confidence that the nationwide strike by resident doctors will be called off in a few days.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the PTF media briefing, said most of the issues of concern were being trashed out.
Ehanire also spoke on measures being promoted by government in order to prevent increase in deaths arising from COVID-19.

He said the increasing number of new cases of COVID-19 in the country should serve as a warning that fatalities could be on the rise if certain health precautions were not taken.

According to Ehanire, since the majority of fatalities are over 50 years of age, or have preexisting ailments like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, HIV, such group of citizens has to be specially protected.

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