COVID-19 pandemic which spread to Nigeria five months ago all the way from Wuhan, China, may have dealt a deadly blow that can never be forgotten in the annals of Nigeria’s aviation sector, but one obvious thing is that no matter the damage the virus might have caused, the sector like other sectors in other parts of the globe must surely continue to live to tell the story.
After five months of confusion and uncertainties, Nigeria’s aviation sector like other sectors is gradually picking the pieces of its future battered by the pandemic together to give air travels life again.
To achieve this aim, kudos to the Presidential Task Force Committee on COVID-19 led by the Secretary to Government of Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and his team including the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika with the tireless efforts of the aviation authorities at the background who have all been working round the clock to ensure flight operations and other activities bounce back.
With preparations already put on ground such as the simulation tests carried out by the different aviation agencies, the demonstration of flights conducted by the airlines to show their readiness to hit the sky once flights eventually resume, the dry run simulation exercises carried out at domestic terminals of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos respectively, aimed at assessing the readiness of the airports for reopening,coupled with the safety measure introduced at the airports, there is hope waiting in the horizon for air travelers soon.
Without doubt and with the latest approval for partial flight resumption by the government, all is now set for business activities to return to the sector which have lost unquantifiable billions of Naira to the lockdown brought by the pandemic.
As all stakeholders particularly travelers are preparing for the return of activities, let it be known to them that it will no longer be business as usual for them in the new dispensation.
In other words, air travelers are bound to face more cumbersome measures that must be 100 percent complied with for health safety of other travelers and airport users.
For the big men and women who fall under the category of the popular ‘VIPs’ including the governors, ministers, business class, politicians and even local government Chairmen amongst others who come few minutes before flight take off to the airport with their retinue of aides, it is no longer allowed in view of new measures such as social distancing and the new health measures passengers will have to go through before embarking on flights.
In line with this, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has already announced the barn of escorts of the the VIPs from the airports and it is hoped that these big men will understand this simple logic.
For passengers who hitherto don’t leave their homes on time while traveling, it is no longer business as usual as passengers traveling on the domestic scene are expected to be at the airport three hours before the departure while outbound passengers must now arrive the airport five or even more hours before flight time.
The need for passengers to arrive far ahead of their flights is to enable them go through all the health safety measures ranging from temperature checks, ensuring that all protocols, including safety markings, social distancing, hand sanitizing, baggage decontamination, scanning of personal items, etc. are complied with forthwith.
These new measures are definitely not limited to Nigeria as government of other nations of the world have put similar and more stringent measures on ground at their airports to prevent the further spread of the pandemic, therefore, the Nigerian traveling public who have been adjudged to be the most traveled should be prepared for the new measures both in Nigeria and other countries of destination.
The success of these measures shall depend on the ability of all stakeholders including the so called VIPs who have been notorious before now for flouting airport rules to comply. They should realize that COVID-19 is no respecter of statuses. Therefore, as the sector awaits the final whistle blow for flight and other business resumptions, passengers, workers and other airport users must gear up for the new measures ahead.
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