The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the planned resumption of domestic flight operations tentatively scheduled for 21st June, citing current restrictions on interstate movement.
Musa Huhu, the NCAA Director-General, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said NCAA would only resume local flight services when it was safe to do so.
He stated that it was impossible for domestic airlines to restart operations in a situation that people would not be allowed to move freely from one state to another.
Forcing resumption of flights when NCAA is least prepared, according to Nuhu, is capable of endangering the sector apart from the possibility of the decision to trigger a rise in COVID-19 cases.
”To do otherwise, will be disastrous for us. If we open the flight when we are not ready and we are guilty of spreading coronavirus, God forbid we have any incident, I believe the governors will come hard on us and it is going to be counter-productive and even will be disastrous for the industry,” he said.
The NCAA boss affirmed that the regulator required more time to ensure that it is ready to start work. He added that it had been receiving inputs from international bodies including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which oversees the implementation of standards and recommended practices in the aviation industry around the world.
”The airports also have their high-level task force on COVID-19, which also plays a significant part. We have to adopt all this and you can be rest assured that the NCAA will only give the go-ahead when we are ready, nothing before then,” he said
Meanwhile, the Senate on Thursday urged the Nigerian government not to reopen five of the airports that were shut down in March.
The Senate Committee on Aviation, after an emergency meeting with leaders of unions in the sector, led by the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, stated that it would be dangerous to reopen the airports now.
Smart Adeyemi, the committee’s chairman, noted that the planned reopening of the sector should be put on hold based on critical issues raised by stakeholders in the industry concerning security and safety.
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