COVID-19: Over 200 Americans jet out of Nigeria

•So far 1,539 foreigners evacuated through Lagos airport alone

Another batch of 200 Americans has again been evacuated out of Nigeria on Tuesday by the American airline, Delta Air Lines through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

This came after 385 Americans were on Monday flown out of the country through the Abuja and Lagos airport following the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.

Confirming the latest evacuation exercise, the Regional Airport Manager, South West, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs Victoria Shinaba said since the commencement of the exercise saw the airlifting of American and European citizens by Air France late March. Other airlines including Nigeria’s Air Peace have taken part in the evacuation of the over 1,000 foreign nationals.

Statistics provided by Shinaba, showed that Air France had so far evacuated 399 French and other European citizens, Lufthansa has evacuated 238 nationals, Middle East Airlines evacuated 140 Lebanese.

While Ethiopian airlines evacuated 295 Canadians and another 375 Americans, Jed Air evacuated nine Liberians, Air Peace airlifted Israelis with the latest being the 200 Americans evacuated by Delta Air Lines.

Shinaba expressed satisfaction with the way the evacuation has been ongoing smoothly with little or no hiccups even as she promised full cooperation from other aviation agencies for the conclusion of the exercise.

Her words: “So far, the activities have been okay and well-coordinated. Since the closure of the airport, we have had about 10 evacuations of different nationals. We have had from Air France/KLM, Lufthansa, Middle East Airline, Ethiopian airlines. Then. We have had local charter too. Also, Jed Air did Liberia, Air Peace airlifted Israelis. Today, we have Delta Air Lines on ground that will take about 200 Americans.

“The conditions are that you have to get approval from the Federal Ministry of Aviation. When the ministry gives approval, it is sent to FAAN, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Then we send approval to all the security agencies too.

“Most importantly, there is a procedure in place for COVID-19 virus pandemic which has to be followed.

“Apart from today, we have had 1,539 persons evacuated through the Lagos airport alone. Another 200 batch of Americans is to be airlifted on Wednesday and next week. We are having South African Airways and Air France too. They can come up with any plan in the course of the week. That is why we are essential workers. We have to ensure that there is smooth running of operations. Nothing is compromised.”

The Airport Manager used the period to lament the huge funds the airport authority has lost since the pandemic forced the airports to shut down to operations, saying that on the average that the departure terminal handles 23-28 flights daily which she said had dropped to 10 flights.

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