The Minister of Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika, has disclosed that intending local air travellers will now have to get to the airport three (3) hours before their boarding time while international travellers will have to be at the airport five hours before their flight in order to observe the new protocol at the airport in a bid curtail the spread of COVID-19 as government plans flight resumption in Nigeria.
Speaking on Saturday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, the site of the simulation exercise, the Minister noted that “the flight simulation is to achieve five things: firstly it is to maintain physical distance with each other, secondly, it is to wear protective materials such as face mask and face shield, thirdly, It is to maintain hygiene, fourthly, it is to clean the area and surfaces and that is a function of the robot itself apart from identifying the passengers.
“Lastly, it is to also seat in an environment that is clean and hygienic maintaining physical distancing. So we can board the aircraft decontaminated so we don’t contaminate others. All of the things that have happened here is to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19,” he explained.
According to him, the authorities “are ensuring efficient facilitation of passengers so time is not wasted in adopting the new normal.
“We will announce all the protocols again before opening. But you need to be at the airport three hours ahead of your flight,” he stated.
“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 local flight. For international flight, we may do five hours,” he stated.
Sirika further stated that “we have demonstrated here in a mock manner a sick person. You saw how the area was cordoned off, the sick taken away to safe area and the scene disinfected. You saw the health workers in their PPEs come around to evacuate the sick person. All these are to adhere to the new normal.
“You also saw that if you are served tea or beverages, you pick it yourself in a disposable cup.”
He said “everything for me in this demo exercise worked very well. We came and began maintaining physical distance right from the outside.
“All the markings are there, and we respected that. During the checking procedure, we were shielded from the check-in officials, we got our boarding passes and during boarding, we detached our boarding passes and dropped the other end without physical contact. So contacts with people have been reduced so we can remain safe,” he further explained.
Speaking on the protocol inside the flight he said: “There will also be social distancing in the aircraft. But new ideas are coming on board on how to remain seated to make the carbon economical okay and to ensure we don’t infect each other. Those new norms are coming and we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable. WHO and ICAO have developed protocols of the sitting,” Sirika explained.