Clamour for international flights heightens as 14 airports reopen
Anxious Nigerians are relentlessly pushing for the quick reopening of the country’s international airport terminals to make room for full commercial operations.
The clamour heightened on Sunday when the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika disclosed on Twitter that fourteen airports were now reopened for full domestic operations.
Reactions from the disclosure indicated that many Nigerians were itching to see the international gateways flung open for commercial operations.
According to Sirika, with the coming on stream of Jos and Benin airports on July 24, the number of local terminals reopened for full commercial operations has risen to 14.
In a tabulated presentation titled “Current Status of Restart of the Aviation Industry”, the Minister listed all the approved airports for local operations beginning with the Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos that came alive on July 8 and ended with Benin Airport that became functional on July 24.
Sirika said: ‘Glad to announce that the following airports are open for full domestic operations, hence Ministerial approvals in and out of them is not required. This includes private and charter operations.
‘We will keep you informed on the reminder airports in due course, please.’
With no mention of international flights, Twitter users inundated Sirika with fresh requests to restart international flights, which has no definite date of commencement.
@Morire 53660407 said: ‘We have been looking forward to August only for us the hear the news about flight resumption in October, I almost killed myself today. Please we look forward to August we beg you in the name of Allah sir. It’s been over 4months already please have mercy.’
Another concerned Nigerian, @ChiemenaS, said: ‘Seriously this is a disaster to humanity, they should open the international flight, many came back xmass hoping to return in Feb ending but this have really devastated everything, help the masses pls.’
For @Afolabioyepeju, ‘It’s causing me depression already leaving my husband and work for 5months hasn’t been easy on me @llll… I feel your pain my sister.’
@Emmydonkaki: ‘Me too I was sad throughout today I was in pain I wish these people will open this August I will be the happiest man on earth,’ he noted.
Last week, Sirika made it clear that Nigeria was yet to fix a date for the resumption of international flights. The clarification sprang from speculation caused by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) that issued a routine 90-day Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), which many interpreted to mean a resumption of international flights in October.
NOTAM is a safety alert notice filed by aviation authorities to forewarn pilots of potential hazards along a flight path or at a location in the airport.
Nonetheless, the Minister did not foreclose the possibility of international flights resuming in or before October.
He said in a tweet: ‘International flight resumption date is not October. NAMA just issued a routine 90-day Notices to Airmen (NOTAM). In liaison with Health, Foreign Affairs & PTF COVID-19, we will announce the agreed date, regardless of the ban by Europe, UAE etc. May be earlier than October.’
During the lockdown, airports remain shut to all international commercial flights, save for specially arranged evacuation services to bring in stranded Nigerians overseas and foreigners in-country to return home.
Flights for essential services, such as the delivery of food and drug supplies and other items so categorised are allowed to operate.
Those that flouted the rule were slammed with scathing sanctions.