Airlines Fault PTF, Express Readiness To Resume Operations
As the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority gears up to submit the aviation restart plan to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Wednesday, airline operators have expressed readiness to begin flight operations.
The Federal had last Thursday cancelled initial plan to allow domestic flights resume 24 hours before the set June 21 date.
Airline operators who spoke to our correspondent said it was not good for the industry to remain grounded.
Media and Communications Manager of Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, said the industry needed to restart as soon as possible.
He said, “The aviation sector is a sector that contributes to the growth of the economy and further cancellation is not too good for the industry. It is taking close to three months now; airplanes are packed, people are home.
“The support the government spoke about has not come and it is very important that the industry restarts to avoid job losses.”
He said Dana Air had done its own part to ensure customer safety onboard and stressed the importance of an industry restart.
Ezenwa said, “We cannot offer the service people are paying for. The PTF’s decision is in the country’s interest.
“However, there is a need for us to restart the economy. The transport industry is moving already. Contracting this virus onboard is very low according to the research released by International Air Transport Association.
“It is not impossible, but based on IATA’s research, it is very low to catch the virus onboard as long as safety precautions are utilised.”
The Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, noted that airlines had developed protocols to meet the NCAA’s requirement for flight operations
He said, “For us, we are developing protocols regarding the restart and when we are done, we will meet with the NCAA and tell them we are ready to start.”
He noted more attention should be paid to when the airports would open and how ready the airspace is rather than when airlines would fly.
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He said, “The best thing is to open the airspace and say any airline that is ready to restart or has conformed with the protocols should fly.
“What you should do is ask the PTF when they would open the airspace. Opening the airspace doesn’t mean that the airlines would fly anyhow. They would have to conform to NCAA’s guidelines before flying.”
He added, “We should stop putting the horse before the cart and asking airlines when they would fly before the airports are ready.
“We should ask the Federal Government to open the airspace and when they do so, questions can then be directed to the airlines: ‘Why are you not flying? What protocols have you not met?’”
Aviation Analyst, Olumide Ohunayo, expressed his disappointment with the PTF decision to stall the resumption of domestic flights.
He said, “For me, I was disappointed to hear it from the PTF. I would have expected the NCAA to inform the industry prior to the announcement.”
Ohunayo argued that the airlines who have met the 70 per cent cut off by the NCAA should have been allowed to resume operations.
He said, “It is not from the airlines. That percentage given by the airlines which is about 60 -70 per cent shows that they have enough airplanes and crew that can start post-COVID operations.
“We don’t expect to have the full capacity and operational prowess that was available to the industry before COVID-19 because passengers too, take time to build. I think the few airlines can restart the process.”
He suggested that the only terminal in Lagos be open for operations.
Ohunayo said, “Now that we have one terminal in Lagos, invariably Lagos can start with that one terminal that is available.
“They should only reduce the number of flights so that the terminal will not be overstretched.
“What can be done is to ensure that we get Abuja ready and one other airport since Abuja has a higher percentage than the rest.”
Ohunayo stated that it was important that flight resumed in earnest.