Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said on Sunday that it would implement flight spacing at all its airports as part of safety measures ahead of reopening of airports for commercial flights.
The decision, according to the Managing Director, Mr Rabiu Yadudu, would reduce the number of people at the airports.
The agency had, on Saturday, held dry run simulation exercises at domestic terminals of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos respectively to assess the readiness of airports for reopening.
Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, who led members of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to Lagos from Abuja, expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness of stakeholders to return to the sky by next month.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos, Yadudu declared the flight spacing was not to disrupt any of the airline’s schedules but to ensure total safety of passengers, airline staff and others within the airport environment.
According to him, FAAN had informed Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of its plan, which he said would restrict multiple departures of flights from the same terminal at the same time.
He said: “We have already told NCAA that we are going to space the flights. “No two airlines will depart at the same time from our airports. “The spacing is not to make things difficult for operators, but to protect their staff and other users of our airports.
“It is not going to be unnecessary spacing. “Like I told them, it is not a slot, but just spacing of flights.”
Concerns over Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos
On the inadequate space at General Aviation Terminal of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA1), Lagos, Yadudu stated that there were plans to increase its capacity by about 200 per cent with the construction of fabricated materials within the facility.
He said FAAN was ready to reopen the airports for commercial flights three months after it was suspended due to Covid-19 outbreak.
He disclosed that about 85 to 90 per cent of the agency’s staff had been trained by World Health Organisation (WHO) on operational and response time on Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that FAAN’s staff had been trained by Port Health Services in order to ensure compliance on resumption, saying all the protocols laid down by NCAA had been followed to the latter.
He said: “No airport in Nigeria has 100 per cent of its staff trained by WHO and Port Health on Covid-19 pandemic but we achieved that with Owerri Airport.
“All our staff at Owerri airport are trained 100 per cent with certificates issued.
“Overall, about 85 to 90 per cent of our staff have been trained and we want to achieve 100 per cent training for all.
“At GAT, we have also erected a large canopy for people to stay in case of rain. “We also have sanitisers and equipment to test their temperature at the airport and others in the country.
“Our tap water has sensors to minimse touch. Also, the MD disclosed that FAAN was installing transparent shields in front of all airline counters operating from its terminal in a bid to minimise physical contacts, adding that wearing of face masks and other protocols by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) would be made compulsory.