By Gabriel Agbeja
Abuja – The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has commended passengers at both Lagos and Abuja airports on their level of compliance to the laid down protocols to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
FAAN Managing Director, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, gave the commendation while addressing journalists at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) on Wednesday.
Yadudu also commended airlines for their sincere adherence to guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and FAAN protocols.
According to him, the reopening is purely driven by the cooperation of the stakeholders and the passengers.
“We have gone ahead of the level of preparedness, it was very good. We satisfy ourselves, we satisfy the Aviation authority and now we are here. The first flight has already taken place very smoothly.
“All our operations went out to be very correct. No issues, not even minor issues. The only thing is we are very surprise with the level of cooperation we got from our passengers.
“There were no issues with the passengers, because we are worried of the planning put into this, it is only a plan,” he said.
The managing director said the feat was as a result of months of preparation with a lot of direct and virtual meetings through the zoom network.
He listed Arik, Air peace, Aero contractors, among other airlines that would start operations at the resumption.
“We carefully judged all involved stakeholders preparation and expectations. Within the next 10 days, we are sure that almost all the airlines would be fully operational.
“We announce Lagos to Abuja first, then later Port-Harcourt, Owerri and kano, as we are entering level of operation. We are not going to open all the airports at the same,” he added.
Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said that pictures received from the airports depicted that airlines and air travelers obeyed all the protocols listed to be obeyed.
“So far so good, there is a significant level of compliance. The reports that reached us with what we have seen has been impressive.
“The passengers sitting arrangement will significantly minimise the level of contacting Coronavirus in the plane. The compliance of airlines is 94 per cent and which is good enough.
“By the time we run the system a couple of weeks, we will get more experiences and see how we can make it more efficient. But we need to start first,” he said.
Mr Hamza Bukar, Associate Vice – President, Abuja and Regional Domestic North, Arik Airlines, lauded the efforts put in place by FAAN, NCAA and other relevant stakeholders toward airport’s resumption.
He also commended the level of maturity displayed by the passengers, saying it will encourage free and credible operation in the airport.
“On behalf of all stakeholders, I want to say congratulations to everybody. You can see, even the emotion attached to this thing, the MD FAAN was even shedding tears of joy that cut across everybody.
“The joy is synonymous, and we have proved that aviation is a key in the economy of any country. It is very timely as God`s time is the best. We are already here, we have started.
“The passengers cooperated fully, that is why we are able to reach this stage. You can see that nobody has argued, everybody has obeyed the law,” he said.
According to him, AriK arline strictly abide with the guidelines of the NCDC and protocols displayed by FAAN.
He added that the airline scheduled three flights out of Abuja to Lagos and another three flights out of Lagos to Abuja.
NAN reports that AriK Flight no 5NMJQ was the first flight from Lagos with 81 passengers at 8:30a.m and was the flight to depart from Abuja to Lagos with 86 passengers at 9: 50 a.m.
An Arik Airline passenger, Mr James Agama, who was boarding the flight to Lagos thanked FAAN for the arrangement and guidelines to avoid the spread of Coronavirus at the airports.