President Nana Akufo-Addo has indicated that Ghana’s international airport may reopen next month after measures are set in place to test arriving passengers for coronavirus.
“I know many still ask when our borders, especially our international airport, Kotoka International Airport, will be open,” Akufo-Addo said in a televised address late Sunday.
“Under my instructions, the Ministry of Aviation, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and the Ghana Airports Co. Ltd., have been working with the Ministry of Health and its agencies to ascertain our readiness to reopen our airport,” he said.
“I want to ensure that we are in a position to test every single passenger that arrives in the country to avoid the spread of the virus,” he said.
“The outcome of that exercise will show us the way, and determine when we can reopen our border by air. I am hoping that, by God’s grace, we will be ready to do so by 1st September.”
Kotoka, located outside the capital Accra, was closed in March along with other border points in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. Schools were also shut and public gatherings banned.
Ghana, a country of 30 million people, has recorded 42,653 cases since March, 239 of them fatal.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has called on air passengers to report any official from any agency that requests money under any guise.
It made the call in a statement on Sunday by its General Manager in charge of Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu.
As the nation’s airports begin to reopen gradually for flight operations, Yakubu urged passengers to desist from giving money to officials.
She informed passengers and other airport users that there was no aspect of FAAN services at the airports that was being paid for by cash.
“Arriving passengers are expected to have gone through the COVID-19 test before boarding their flights from ports of departure, therefore, they should not pay any money whatsoever to any airport official for the purpose.
“All COVID-19 measures put in place at the airports are free for passengers and does not attract any charges,” the statement said.
The Enugu State Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) on demolished a residential building belonging to an architect John Jerry Emejulu, Channels Television can confirm.
Emejulu had earlier demolished part of the Enugu Airport fence claiming ownership of a portion of the land.
The Federal Government, on Thursday, condemned his actions and promised to take punitive actions.
Chairman of ECTDA, Dr. Josef Onoh, who supervised the demolition, denied that it was a reprisal action.
He said his agency obtained a court order to demolish the building after concluding that it was built on a waterway and needed to give way.
The private residence is situated along Eziokwe street, off Nike Lake road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Thursday, said Mr Emejulu, accompanied by hundreds of armed thugs and bulldozers, had demolished up to 2km of the Enugu airport fence before the Nigerian Air Force and Police intervened to arrest the situation.
“This is certainly unfortunate, unbecoming,” Sirika said during a visit to the airport on Thursday. “Emejulu has done his best. But in doing his best, he has given the opportunity to government to show how not to wilfully destroy public assets belonging to 200 million people. It’s totally unacceptable.”
Sirika stressed that the airport fence demolition was carried out when President Muhammadu Buhari was devoting large amounts to the nation’s infrastructure, including the Enugu airport, which he noted had been abandoned for decades.
“Without hesitation, Mr President provided the funding” to revive the airport, Sirika said, but a “cantankerous, cranky individual” decided to disrupt the process.
“There is a government in place and it is wrong time to test our resolve,” the Minister said, adding that Mr Emejulu had threatened to destroy more properties within the airport but was only stopped by the swift intervention of security forces.
“I am sure he will regret this,” Sirika said. “And this is an opportunity for the government to show that no one can take the law into his hands and wilfully destroy national assets.
“We will not forgive him. The Chief of Air Staff, the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of DSS will be directed to do the needful and bring him to book.
“For emphasis, airports are national security assets and we are determined to protect them.”
The Federal Government has asked air travellers to report at the airport at least 90 minutes before their departure time.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made this call on Monday via Twitter.
Sirika also appealed to air travellers to endeavour to check-in online.
“My colleagues and I have reviewed passenger facilitation at our airports, consequently I am happy to announce that, henceforth travellers are to arrive one hour and a half before their departure time for domestic flights,” the tweet read.
This development comes a month after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) advised passengers to get to the airport at least three hours before departure due to safety checks.
Airport operations were suspended in March to contain the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
On July 1, Sirika announced that the Abuja and Lagos airports will resume on July 8, while Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri airports will reopen on July 11.
Other airports are expected to reopen on Wednesday 15 July while the resumption date for international flights will be announced later.
My colleagues & I have reviewed passenger facilitation at our airports, consequently I am happy to announce that, henceforth travelers are to arrive one hour and a half before their departure time for domestic flights. Travelers are advised to check in online, please 🙏🏽🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬🙏🏽
As domestic flight operations resumed at the Murtala International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Wednesday, Nigerians were seen at the airports complying with the COVID-19 protocols.
Flight operations had been shut for over three months as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
But following approval by the president, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 gave the go-ahead for the commencement of domestic flights.
See photos of Nigerians complying with the set protocols as they embarked on their journeys.
Some members of the House of Representatives have paid an inspection visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
The lawmakers, who comprise members of the House Committee on Aviation, inspected the airport on Monday ahead of the resumption of domestic flights in the country.
During the visit, the lawmakers advocated the need for relevant agencies to ensure compliance with safety protocols amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
This comes barely a week after the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the airport in the nation’s capital and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport would resume domestic operations on Wednesday.
He also announced that the airports in Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri (Imo State), and Maiduguri (Borno State) would also resume local operations on Saturday, while other airports would resume on July 15.
According to the minister, the date for resumption of international flights will be announced in due course.
Highpoints of the lawmakers’ visit to the airport in Abuja are captured below:
Paris’s Orly airport reopened on Friday for the first time in nearly three months after air travel collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic, but flights will be a fraction of the usual rate.
A plane operated by low-cost carrier Transavia took off for the Portuguese port city of Porto, the first commercial flight since the airport south of Paris came to a halt on March 31.
Two firetrucks on either side of the plane shot a festive arc “water salute” over the stationary aircraft, with the passengers inside waiting to taxi to the runway.
Airlines including Transavia, Air France, EasyJet, Vueling, and Air Caraibes account for most of the traffic at Orly, flying to the Caribbean, Reunion Island, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, and Croatia, among others.
On Friday, officials expect around 8,000 passengers, less than 10 percent of the daily pre-virus average of around 90,000.
They will be on more than 70 flights compared to the normal run of 600 a day.
Traffic is due to increase to 200 flights daily in July but it will depend much on whether Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia reopen their borders as well as on whether the virus remains under control.
– Vast damage to global aviation – For nearly three months, all commercial flights from Paris have taken off from the main Charles de Gaulle airport to the north of the capital, in order to rationalise costs.
In May, traffic plummeted by almost 98 percent at Charles de Gaulle, with only 200,000 passengers coursing through its halls, a snapshot of the damage done to global aviation.
The International Air Transport Association said earlier this month that the world’s airlines were in line to make a combined net loss of more than $84 billion this year.
Orly has taken measures to check the spread of the coronavirus, with more than 7,000 posters and stickers to keep people at a safe distance, hand sanitisers, and plexiglass windows at check-in desks and other counters.
Staff also used thermal cameras to check the temperatures of passengers.
Others dressed in protective white suits and masks sprayed disinfectant on surfaces like automatic check-in screens.
Almost all the stores at Orly 3 were to open on Friday, apart from a few exceptions such as a self-service sweet shop.
The hundreds of thousands of people who live under the air corridors said they dreaded the end of three months of peaceful nights, a “paradise” where they recalled birds singing instead of roaring jet engines.
Luc Offenstein, a retired commuter train driver who had campaigned to curb air traffic nuisance, said the area had got used to a new way of life.
Residents near Orly have fared better than those at Charles de Gaulle because they benefit from a curfew on flights between 11:30 pm and 6:00 am.
London City Airport awaited its first flight in nearly three months Sunday as Britain moved another step closer to fully emerging from its coronavirus lockdown on July 4.
The main air hub for London’s once-bustling Canary Warf and City financial districts was expected to welcome a short-haul flight from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea on Sunday evening.
Airport officials sounded thrilled.
They announced a deep cleaning and posted the results of a survey showing that most people — 72 percent — would like to fly again when it was safe.
“This clear early demand from our passengers to get back to flying is really encouraging,” airport chief executive Robert Sinclair said.
But the first routes will be domestic because of international travel restrictions and only a handful of destinations will be served in the first weeks.
London businesses are also unhappy with the government’s divisive decision to impose 14-day quarantines on most people arriving in Britain.
“Both blanket Foreign Office advice not to travel abroad and the mandatory two-week quarantine for all arrivals into the UK should be limited to the highest risk countries,” the London First business lobby said on the airport’s website.
Britain’s official death toll of 42,589 is Europe’s highest and third globally behind the United States and Brazil.
But health officials lowered the alert level to three on a five-point scale on Friday — a signal the government needed to take a more business-friendly approach.
Britain’s pubs and restaurants are most upset about a requirement for everyone to stay two meters (six feet) apart in public at all times.
Business owners complain that the restriction means they will never be able to seat enough people to turn a profit.
The measure is also partially being blamed for the government’s inability to keep its promise to reopen schools before the summer break.
British newspapers and business figures have been waging a war against it for weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson — his approval ratings dropping as the economic toll of the health disaster climbs — is expected this week to give the formal go-ahead for pubs and restaurants to start seating clients on July 4.
Some hair salons have also started taking bookings for July in anticipation.
But most will be watching to see what he has to say about the two-metre requirement — an issue that some critics view as emblematic of Johnson’s incongruous response to the crisis.
His top ministers gave every indication this weekend that the rule would be relaxed.
“There are all sorts of mitigations that can put in place to be physically closer than two metres but not have the transmission of the virus or the risk of spreading the coronavirus,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said a slightly smaller gap between people “will make an enormous difference I think to many businesses who are keen to see a change”.
But public frustration at the government’s response to the crisis is becoming clear.
A YouGov poll showed Johnson’s approval rating slipping into negative territory for the first time since he took control of the government last July.
“How can it be that it looks like we are going to end up with a higher death toll, a longer lockdown and a worse economic hit? How does that happen?” a Sky News presenter asked Hancock on a popular Sunday morning politics show.
“Well, there will be a time for this sort of analysis and it’s very important in terms of insuring all the lessons are learned,” Hancock replied.
Major world airlines on Monday axed almost all flights on a temporary basis as the worsening coronavirus crisis sparks travel bans, ravages demand and sends shares into freefall, triggering pleas to help carriers survive.
IAG, owner of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, announced it would slash flight capacity by 75 percent during April and May owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The London-based carrier’s share price crashed nearly 27 percent in mid-afternoon deals.
Other airlines tumbled, with Germany’s Lufthansa erasing almost 11 percent in value and Air France wiping out 17 percent on similar announcements.
Britain’s Virgin Atlantic added that it has decided to park 75 percent of its total fleet — and in April this will rise as high as 85 percent.
Virgin has reportedly called upon the UK government to inject emergency support totalling 7.5 billion pounds ($9.2 billion, 8.3 billion euros) to help keep Britain’s aviation industry flying.
In Germany, Lufthansa has been forced to scrap around two thirds of its flights in coming weeks as several countries including the United States ban travellers from Europe.
– ‘Deteriorating at pace’ –
“Last week saw a rapid acceleration of the impact of COVID-19 on global aviation and tourism,” Virgin Atlantic warned in a statement.
“The situation is deteriorating at pace and the airline has seen several days of negative bookings, driven by a huge volume of cancellations as customers choose to stay at home.”
British no-frills carrier EasyJet warned it may have to ground “the majority” of its fleet, urging governments across Europe to help their airlines maintain access to liquidity.
EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren added: “European aviation faces a precarious future and it is clear that coordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives and is able to continue to operate when the crisis is over.”
Irish budget carrier Ryanair meanwhile did not rule out a full grounding as it unveiled stinging flight cutbacks.
As part of its drastic action, IAG said it was “cutting non-essential and non-cyber related IT spend, freezing recruitment and discretionary spending, implementing voluntary leave options, temporarily suspending employment contracts and reducing working hours”.
IAG added that a management shake-up had been put on hold, noting that Willie Walsh would remain as chief executive.
Walsh had been due to step down on March 26, to be replaced by Iberia CEO Luis Gallego.
Air France will meanwhile slash flight capacity by 70-90 percent over the next two months, while Austrian Airlines will suspend all flights from Thursday, and Finnair is cutting 90 percent of capacity until the situation improves.
The German government on Monday said it is planning to shield companies from going under because of the pandemic, by suspending legal obligations for firms facing acute liquidity problems to file for bankruptcy.
German tourism and hotel group TUI said it was applying for state aid to keep it afloat, as it suspended the “majority” of its operations.
– ‘This is not 2008’ –
Back in London, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled that the government would examine help for affected businesses, not just airlines, via Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) — which is Britain’s tax authority.
“HMRC is ready to help all businesses including airlines experiencing temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus,” Johnson’s spokesman told AFP.
Stephen Innes, markets strategist at AxiCorp, drew a contrast with the global financial crisis which sparked bank bailouts.
However, as G7 finance ministers prepare to discuss the crisis later Monday, Innes argued that airlines were not the only strategic companies calling for assistance this time.
“This is not 2008. Back then it was the banks, this time the banks’ balance sheets are fine,” Innes said.
“But this is a global economic crisis which needs swap lines to airline companies, oil companies and retailers .
“Airlines might be at the top of the list for directed fiscal help, but virtually every global industry is facing pressure without a government bailout,” he added.
– US cutbacks –
US airlines have also announced drastic reductions in flights after President Donald Trump’s administration banned foreign travellers arriving from Europe.
United Airlines said it would announce a cut in capacity of around 50 percent for April and May, as the United States ramps up restrictions to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“We also now expect these deep cuts to extend into the summer travel period,” said United chief executive Oscar Munoz in a letter to employees published Sunday.
American Airlines said it would reduce all international capacity by 75 percent, while competitors Delta and Southwest Airlines plan to strip back flights.