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COVID-19: Airlines to designate aircraft’s last row as isolation space

The Federal Government has said the last cabin row of aircraft would be designated as isolation centre for air travellers that exhibit symptoms of coronavirus.


Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this yesterday during the Presidential Task Force (PFT) on COVID-19 briefing. Sirika said this was part of the safety measures taken against coronavirus as the nation prepares for resumption of domestic flights tomorrow. He explained that cabin staffers have been trained to carry out necessary precautions and protocols in case of any emergency.


Also, passengers would no longer be served refreshment to reduce the level of contact with cabin staff. Sirika stated that Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano are ready for recommencement of domestic flights. The minister also said governors, ministers, National Assembly members, military men and judiciary officers will not be allowed into the terminal building with their aides who are not travelling.


Following the loss made due to the closure of the airports for about three months, the minister also said all businesses in charge of air economy in the country would be given opportunity to access a two-fold palliative from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning.


On how the sector will comply with COVID-19 protocols, he said: “We are complying with international standards and many countries have resumed. In Africa, more than five countries have resumed domestic flight and around the world, about 100 countries have commenced domestic operations.”


He explained that cabin staffers have been trained to carry out necessary precautions and protocols in case of any emergency. Sirika had recently embarked on assessment of the airports which, he said, were 90 per cent ready to commence operations. He said that what remained was surface cleaning and bags provision which would be perfected as soon as flight resumes.


On the time to be spent with the new protocol, the minister said: “The experience is quite nice, but it takes a bit of time, which is why you will need to be at the airport three hours before your departure time for local flights. For international flights, we may do five hours.”


On the protocol inside the flight, the minister said: “There would also be social distancing in the aircraft. But new ideas were coming on board on how to remain seated to make the cabin economically okay and to ensure Nigerians don’t infect each other.”


He added that those new norms were coming and they would implement them in such a way that flights were profitable. “WHO and ICAO have developed protocols of the sitting,” he said.


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