The shutting down of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja to scheduled international flights will take effect Monday March 23, 2020.
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which announced the shutting down of the airports temporarily as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 , however , said there will be exception for emergency and essential flights.
Spokesman of the NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye said despite the shutting of the two airports for scheduled flights, the regulator will issue flight permits for ”emergency flights ” covering Air Ambulances and persons with medical and health conditions who would need aircraft to ferry out of the country.
Adurogboye said the exemption will also cover ” essential flights “, for aircraft seeking to make technical landing in Nigerian airports, should such aircraft develop technical / mechanic problems, when it is overflying Nigerian airspace.
He said that though the shutting of Lagos and Abuja International Airports was for four weeks, it was subject to review.
He explained that the shutting down of the two airports was a follow up measure to the closure of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and the Port-Harcourt International Airport
He further stated that henceforth, all airports in Nigeria are closed to all incoming international flights with the exception of emergency and essential flights, adding that domestic flights will continue normal operations at all airports.
The NCAA chief directed all airlines to ensure they submit passenger manifest to Port Health authorities prior to arrival of flights into Nigeria.
He clarified that the flight restriction to passengers coming from United States (U.S.), United Kingdom , China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands , Switzerland, Austria and Sweden became necessary as a containment measure.
He explained what the restriction of such passengers entailed.” Passengers that have visited any of the affected countries will on arrival at the airport be supervised for self isolation.
Meanwhile, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has expressed its concerns over the heavy toll COVID-19 was having on global aviation.
In a statement, its National President, Comrade Ben Nnabue, Covid–19 has ravaged aviation through high exposure of airlines and airport personnel to danger.
He said: “The break out and wild spread of corona virus has taken a heavy toll on aviation globally. From high exposure of airline and airport personnel, through the near total collapse of international travel, to the closure of some airports, it is very obvious that aviation has taken the hardest hit from this pandemic.
“The colossal losses arising from this state of affairs has created a very serious labour challenge. As the airlines, especially the international carriers, and the companies dependent on them count their losses,
“All stakeholders must share the worry of the affected aviation companies. We truly sympathise with their situation. And there is a genuine fear that some of the smaller entities might be unable to survive the crush. This type of circumstance calls for sober thoughts.
On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the workers of these companies are real human beings with real human needs. The unfortunate situation of their companies does not diminish the bills they have to bear.
If anything, the psychological trauma imposed by this condition may likely lead to health issues and cause greater spending. This unfortunate, paradoxical inter-relationship between the companies and their workers truly begs for understanding of the deepest kind.