Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Six airlines, including two frontline carriers, are set for resumption of flights into the Asaba International Airport, the Delta State capital, expectedly from tomorrow, Monday, August 17, 2020.
Air Peace and Aero Contractors are two major airlines billed to resume regular flight operations into Asaba at the beginning of the new week as the airport comes alive again four months after it was shut down in March following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Executive Assistant to the Governor of Delta State on Communications, Dr. Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, who confirmed this via a statement made to THISDAY in Asaba on Saturday, said the four other airlines lined up to resume normal commercial flights into and out of Asaba International Airport include Arik, whose fly-in is scheduled for Monday, August 24, 2020, while Azman, Air Ibom and United Air would resume later.
The management of Air Peace and Aero airlines have confirmed their readiness to resume flight operations into the Asaba Airport within 48 hours, Oghenesivbe said, adding that, “This development is sequel to approval given earlier (three days ago) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“Air Peace and Aero Airlines are to touch down on Monday August 24, 2020 at the Asaba international Airport, after almost four months of air travel lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
“A total of six major Airlines will be flying the Asaba-Lagos and Asaba-Abuja routes namely Air Peace, Arik Air, Aero Airlines, Azma Air, United Airlines and Ibom Air.
“As one of the major domestic hubs in the country, Asaba International Airport is now ready to retain her prime place in civil aviation with effect from next Monday,” the statement said, nothing that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the state was thrilled at the development.
Secretary to the Delta State Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie, had last Thursday disclosed that the NCAA had formally cleared Asaba for resumption of regular flight operations, noting that the approval followed a recent inspection of the Asaba Airport by a team of officials of the aviation agency.
Ebie, who underscored the fact that the NCAA conveyed its approval in a letter to the state government, also reiterated the commitment of the Okowa administration “to air safety standards”, noting that the government committed “huge resources into the upgrade of facilities at the Asaba International Airport in line with global practices for both domestic and international flights.”
Moreover, all recommended COVID-19 aviation protocols such as case management facilities needed to handle passengers checking-in, boarding and disembarking at the airport have been put in place and given due approval by the NCAA, the SSG said.
Earlier on Thursday, August 6, 2020, Ebie had said, shortly after an inspection visit, that the Asaba airport was ready for regular flight operations, allaying fears over the continuing spread of the Coronavirus across the country and overseas as government had put in place necessary protocols in line with prescription by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for aviation activities.
Ebie, who noted that the protocols would be binding on the passengers, workers and other users of the airport, added that personnel of the airport were also undergoing special training to enable them function optimally in line with the “new normal”.
The Special Project Director of the airport, Mr. Austin Ayemidejor, while conducting the SSG team around said, “Steps have been taken to ensure that there is physical-distancing, compulsory wearing of facemasks, washing of hands at the point of entry and temperature check.”
The SSG was in company with the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, his counterpart in the Ministry of Finance, Sir Fidelis Tilije and the Chief of Staff, Government House, Chief David Edevbie.
Areas inspected at the airport were the ticketing hall, departure and arrival halls as well as other sections of the airport, where a lot of facilities had been fixed in compliance with the fight against COVID-19.
Governor Okowa had, in a radio and television broadcast on Thursday, March 26, 2020, announced the shutting down of Asaba International Airport and the state boundaries with other states in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatened social and economic activities across the globe.