FG To Speed Up Efforts For International Flights Resumption At Kano Airport, Says Sirika

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

 

All that is necessary for the resumption of international flight operations at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano will be fast-tracked, the Federal Government has said.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, gave the assurance on Tuesday when he received a high-powered delegation from Kano State, led by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje at his office in Abuja.

He stated that the ministry was willing to reopen the airport for international flight operations, saying the continued suspension of international flights to and from the airport was denying the Federal Government and its agencies a lot of revenue.

According to Sirika, it does not make economic sense for the government to spend so much money as it has done in the airport and just decide to leave it inoperative with the attendant degeneration on infrastructure, redundancy amongst operational staff, revenue losses, and hardship to travellers, among other challenges.

He, however, explained that the decision to suspend international flights to and from the airport, like the ones in Enugu and Port Harcourt, was for health and security reasons.

The Minister acknowledged the hardship to the users of the airport, passengers, and service providers alike, and challenged Kano indigenes to create activities that would make the airport more viable through increased passenger traffic.

A file photo of Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

 

In his remarks, Governor Ganduje had informed the minister that the delegation embarked on the visit for two reasons.

The first, he noted, was to show appreciation to the Federal Government for the completion of the International Wing of the airport, and secondly to appeal for the resumption of international flight operations at the aviation facility.

The governor was concern about the effect of the continued suspension of international flights to and from the airport by passengers and service providers.

He stated that the Kano State government has put in place all that was necessary to make the state healthy for flights, including the mobilisation of the populace for the COVID-19 vaccination exercise.

The delegation on the visit to the minister included some members of the Kano State House of Assembly, representatives of the Emir of Kano, and members of the Kano Chamber of Commerce.

Saudi Halts International Flights Over COVID-19 Variant

 (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia on Sunday halted international flights and suspended entry through its land and sea ports for at least a week, after a new fast-spreading strain of coronavirus appeared in Britain.

The kingdom is “temporarily suspending all international flights — except in exceptional cases — for a period of one week, which can be extended by another week,” the official Saudi Press Agency said.

“Entry to the kingdom through land and sea ports will also be suspended for a week, which can be extended by another week,” SPA added, citing the interior ministry.

The suspension does not apply to international aircraft currently in the kingdom, which will be allowed to leave, SPA said.

The Gulf sultanate of Oman adopted similar measures.

It “decided (on Monday) to ban entry and exit from the country through the various land, air and sea borders starting 1:00 am local time on Tuesday December 22 for a week”, the official Oman News Agency reported.

The decision was based on what “authorities in a number of countries announced regarding the emergence of a new Covid-19 strain”, it said, adding the suspension will not apply to cargo flights and vessels.

The development comes after several European countries banned travel from Britain on Sunday as the UK government warned that a highly infectious new strain of the virus was “out of control”.

SPA said passengers who arrived in Saudi Arabia from Europe — or any country where the new strain was detected — starting December 8 will be required to self isolate for two weeks, and undergo testing.

Neighbouring Kuwait also announced a ban on Sunday on passenger flights from Britain over the new strain of the virus.

Alarm bells are ringing across Europe — which last week became the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 — after it appeared that a more infectious strain of the virus was raging in parts of Britain.

Last week, Saudi Arabia kicked off a three-phase Covid-19 vaccination programme, after the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 361,000 novel coronavirus cases, including more than 6,000 deaths –- the highest among the Gulf Arab states. But the kingdom has also reported a high recovery rate.

AFP

Saudi To Ease International Flight Restrictions From September 15

This file handout photo taken on March 5, 2020, provided by the Saudi Royal Palace, shows King Salman bin Abdulaziz during a meeting in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia's 84-year-old ruler King Salman has been admitted to hospital in the capital Riyadh for gall bladder inflammation, the royal court said. Bandar AL-JALOUD / Saudi Royal Palace / AFP
This file handout photo taken on March 5, 2020, provided by the Saudi Royal Palace, shows King Salman bin Abdulaziz during a meeting in the capital Riyadh. Bandar AL-JALOUD / Saudi Royal Palace / AFP

 

 

Saudi Arabia will partially lift its suspension on international flights from September 15, the interior ministry said Sunday, six months after travel curbs were imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The kingdom will end all restrictions on air, land and sea transport for Saudi citizens “after January 1” next year, the ministry added, without specifying an exact date.

Gulf citizens and non-Saudis with valid residency permits or visas will be allowed to enter the kingdom from September 15 as long as they are not infected with the virus, the ministry said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Other “exceptional categories”, including government and military employees, foreign embassy workers and people requiring medical treatment, will also be allowed from September 15.

The ministry added that Saudi Arabia will later announce a plan to gradually allow the umrah pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round umrah in March over fears of the coronavirus pandemic spreading to Islam’s holiest cities.

The kingdom also organised a scaled-down hajj in late July, with only up to 10,000 Muslims taking part in the annual pilgrimage, a far cry from the 2.5 million who participated last year.

Saudi Arabia suspended international flights in March, leaving many citizens and residents stranded overseas.

The kingdom has sought to contain a major spike in infections, which have now risen to more than 325,000 cases — the highest in the Gulf — and over 4,200 deaths.

In June, Saudi Arabia moved to end a coronavirus curfew across the kingdom and lift restrictions on businesses, including cinemas and other entertainment venues.

AFP

International Flights Resumption: Incoming Airlines To Carry 200 Passengers Per Trip – FG

 

The Federal Government has issued a schedule for the partial resumption of international flights, after months of suspension due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

A tweet by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Saturday showed that the flight schedule was signed by its Director-General, Captain Musa Nuhu.

In the document dated September 4, 2020, the aviation agency stated that a maximum of 200 passengers per incoming flights would be allowed into the country.

It explained that the limitation was due to the limited number of approved incoming passengers at 1,280 per airport on a daily basis.

 

The schedule, which was addressed to all aviation stakeholders and foreign airline operators flying into the country, however, stated that there was no limit on the number of outgoing passengers from the country.

It read, “Kindly note due to the limited number of approved incoming passengers (1,280) allowed daily per each airport, it is not possible to accommodate the requested schedule of airlines.

“However, over the next few weeks as the number of allowed incoming passengers is increased, additional flight frequencies will be allocated to airlines in addition to accommodating any airline that meets the requirements for resumption of flight operations into Nigeria.”

“The approved schedule is based on a maximum number of 200 passengers per each incoming flight to Nigeria. There is no limit on the number of outgoing passengers,” the memo added.

READ ALSO: Russia Presents COVID-19 Vaccine To Nigeria

The NCAA stressed that each airline operator was entitled to only one frequency on an approved day of operation, irrespective of the capacity of aircraft utilised.

Giving a breakdown of airlines, the NCAA announced that an average of six airlines would operate in each of the airports allowed to function at the initial stage.

See the full schedule released by the NCAA below:

DAYLAGOS (LOS)ABUJA (ABV)
MONDAYTurkish, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar, AWA, Emirates, British AirwaysBritish Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian, ASKY, Air Cote d’ivoire
TUESDAYBritish Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian, ASKY, Kenya Airways, Air Cote d’IvoireBritish Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian, AWA, Turkish

 

WEDNESDAYDelta, Emirates, Air Senegal, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, MEABritish Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian, ASKY, Air Cote d’Ivoire, AWA
THURSDAYBritish Airways, Delta, Egypt Air, Virgin Atlantic, Ethiopian, Qatar, AWABritish Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, AWA, Ethiopian, Turkish, Air Cote d’Ivoire
FRIDAYAir Senegal, ASKY, Emirates, Turkish, AWA, Kenya Airways, MEABritish Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian, ASKY, MEA
SATURDAYBritish Airways, Delta, Qatar, AWA, Kenya Airways, MEA, Air Cote d’IvoireBritish Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian, AWA, MEA, Turkish
SUNDAYDelta, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, AWA, Kenya Airways, TurkishBritish Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian, ASKY, Air Cote d’Ivoire

 

FG Bars Air France, KLM, Lists International Airlines Allowed To Operate

 

The Federal Government on Thursday released the list of international airlines that will not be allowed to operate when flights begin from September 5.

The list of international airlines was announced by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during a briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.

According to Mr Sirika, only the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos will be opened on Saturday to receive International flights.

The aviation minister said that the airlines denied flying approval include Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Royal line Morocco Air Namibia, Etihad, and Rwanda Air.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nationwide Curfew Now From Midnight To 4 am – FG

However, he also announced those airlines permitted to operate within the country’s airspace.

They include British Airways, Emirates, Middle East Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, Ethiopia, and Egypt Air.

He said that the airlines are expected to operate within the COVID-19 protocols.

Mr Sirika reemphasized that, only passengers who test negative to the PCR test at least four days to departure will be allowed to fly into Nigeria.

The minister said that a second PCR test will be conducted upon arrival, and passengers who cheat the system will be forced into quarantine.

Similarly, he maintained that defaulting airlines will be sanctioned, and they will bear the cost of returning such passengers to their destination.

He stated that passengers who fail to submit for the PCR test, after seven days of arrival, will be on a watch list and be denied international travel for six months.

CBN To Resume FOREX Sales To BDC’s On Monday

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria has said that it will resume sales of foreign exchange to operators of Bureau de Change (BDCs) from Monday, September 7, 2020.

According to a statement from the apex bank on Wednesday, the decision to inject liquidity into the FOREX market is crucial to boosting the naira against the dollar.

It added that the sale will be gradual and done twice a week while stressing that the interventions made in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window will plunge market speculators into losses following their failure to heed to warning signs from the CBN.

Speaking on the issue, the Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, said the sale will be done “twice a week – Mondays and Wednesdays, hence the BDCs had been directed to ensure that their accounts with their banks are adequately funded to ensure seamless transactions.”

While warning speculators to desist from what he termed unpatriotic tendencies, Okorafor urged registered BDCs to comply with the CBN guidelines as the Bank would not hesitate in sanctioning any erring dealer.

READ ALSO: China Is Nigeria’s Highest Import Partner, Total Trade At N6.2bn In Q2 – NBS

He also assured that those requiring foreign exchange for purposes of travel, educational fees, and other Invisibles could obtain such over the counter from their respective banks.

The naira began to rebound against the dollar, exchanging for N420 to a dollar in the BDC segment of the market on Wednesday, after trading for as high as N480 to the dollar on Monday in the I&E window, prompting fears that the Naira was in a free fall.

Meanwhile, the President of the Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadabe has expressed support for the CBN action, noting that the anticipated intervention in the BDC sector would ensure stability in the foreign exchange market.

According to him, speculators in the forex market have been dealt a huge blow with the sharp drop in the exchange rate, which he said would continue a downward trend with the resumption of international flights in and out of the country.

The apex bank had in March this year, suspended the sales of foreign currency to Bureau De Change operators (BDCs) in the country, for two weeks, following a request by the BDC for the CBN to grant them a two-week holiday as a measure to control the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Recently, the Federal Government announced that it will open its airspace for international flights to resume on September 5, 2020.

Ban On Flights: FG Vows To Employ Principle Of Reciprocity

 

 

As Nigeria gears up to resume international flights, the Federal Government has vowed to employ the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to restart operations. 

Speaking on the flight ban imposed by some countries against Nigeria, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, explained that the Federal Government would not hesitate to mete out the same measure to those nations which he did not mention.

 

A file photo of passengers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on July 8, 2020.

 

‘’The principle of reciprocity would be applied. The conditions you give Nigerians who travel to your country – we will apply the same thing,” the NCAA DG who represented the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Thursday.

“If you ban us from coming to your country, the same will apply the other way; we just hope for a level-playing field on the issue of reciprocity.’’

READ ALSO: Nigeria Adds 476 COVID-19 Cases With Seven More Deaths

covid-19 update
A graphic showing Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases. Channels TV/Benjamin Oluwatoyin.

 

Despite fears about the safety of passengers, the NCAA DG gave an insight into preparations being made by the government.

‘Positive Response’

He said a meeting was held with operators of foreign airlines on the requirements for the safe reopening of international flights, assuring that the modalities would be released soon.

“I am glad that so far today, we’ve gotten a positive response from quite a few number of the international airlines in meeting our requirements,” he said while giving details of the meeting with international airlines.

“So, we have almost finished discussing with the health authorities on the protocols for people coming in, on the checks for COVID-19 and people going out and the information will be given to airlines…”

Starting With Lagos, Abuja

On Monday, the PTF announced that international flights would be resuming on August 29th as the government gradually reopens the economy after a lockdown it imposed in the wake of the disease.

 

File photo: Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announcing the date for resumption of international flights at the PTF briefing in Abuja on August 17, 2020.

 

“Just like we did with the domestic (flights resumption), it will start with Lagos and Abuja,” Sirika had explained why announcing the resumption of international flights.

“The protocols, procedures, and processes, will be announced in due course.”

Nigeria To Resume International Flights On August 29

 

Nigeria will resume international flight operations on August 29, the Federal Government has announced.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the announcement on Monday in Abuja at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“We are very glad today to announce that international flights will resume from August 29, 2020,” he said.

Sirika added, “However, what we have become used to – physical distancing, wearing of masks, washing of hands, temperature taking, etc will continue.”

He explained that the process for the resumption of international flights in the country would be similar to that of the domestic flight resumption.

According to the minister, the resumption will commence on Saturday next week at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He thanked Nigerians for their patience while the ban on international flights was enforced and gave an assurance that the protocols and procedures for resumption would be announced in due course.

“Just like we did with the domestic (flights resumption), it will start with Lagos and Abuja. The protocols, procedures, and processes, will be announced in due course.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announces the date for resumption of international flights at the PTF briefing in Abuja on August 17, 2020.

 

“So, all protocols exist, and they will continue alongside the opening of these airports,” said Sirika.

He explained, “In the beginning, there will be four flights into Lagos and four flights into Abuja daily, we will give further details on that in due course.

“It is the Task Force decision, not that of aviation (ministry) … under the leadership of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who is the chairman of PTF.”

The minister also announced the resumption of international flights via his Twitter handle.

COVID-19: FG Begins Process To Restart International Flights

 

The Federal Government has begun the process of restarting international flights. 

In a briefing on Thursday by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, said approvals have been given for aviation authorities to commence the process for the resumption of international flights.

Mr. Aliyu said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other aviation agencies, as well as airlines, are to come up with a safe process through which international airlines can commence operations.

The PTF Coordinator said when international flight operations resume, passengers would arrive three hours before flights, to ensure that there is no crowding of the airports.

READ ALSO: Buhari Approves Extension Of Eased COVID-19 Lockdown By Four Weeks

“For international travel, we have made recommendations to the aviation industry to commence the process for reopening international airports provided all existing international and local COVID-19 protocols are in place.

“We have modified the protocol for passenger arrivals at the airports. Domestic passengers arriving at the airports are advised to arrive one hour before their flights and three hours before international flights when this restarts,” Mr Aliyu stated.

Mr Aliyu’s statement comes shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the extension of the second phase of the eased lockdown for another four weeks.

The PTF had met with the president on Wednesday and briefed him on the progress made so far in containing the spread of COVID-19, as well as making recommendations on how to retain the current phase of the response, with minor changes to address economic, socio-political, and health concerns.

The major changes being proposed are aimed at achieving the gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters. re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters, and the granting of permissions to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations.

Under the revised guidelines of the eased lockdown which will be maintained in the next four weeks, the current nationwide curfew from 10pm- 6am still stands.

Also, meetings for government officials and parastatals will continue to hold virtually.

While the ban on entertainment centers will be maintained, restrictions on recreational parks have been lifted for non-contact physical activities.

Passengers arriving for domestic flights can now arrive at least an hour and a half before flight, and three hours before the flight for international travelers.

Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha on Thursday reemphasized that there is a need for everyone to take responsibility while the nation goes into this extended phase of eased lockdown.

He also urged Nigerians to stop the stigmatization of persons who have contracted, been treated, and have been certified negative for COVID-19.

International Flights: We Will Open When It Is Safe – Sirika

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, addressing reporters in Abuja on July 27, 2020.

 

The Federal Government says it is making efforts to review the ban imposed on international flights in the country.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, revealed this on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja.

He stated that the government was planning to reopen the airports for international flights as soon as possible but would do so at a time considered to be safe.

“Certainly, aviation is the worst hit in this (pandemic). There must be passenger movements, especially international passenger for us to be able to survive… so, we want to open more than you want to open,” the minister said.

He explained, “But this is subject to so many factors and all of the sacrifices the aviation is making is in the interest of the public; in the interest of all of us to stay safe.

“So, therefore, the government will not abdicate its responsibility of ensuring that all of us stay safe. We definitely will open. We will open very soon when everything seems to be okay and is safe.”

 

Sooner Than Later

Sirika lamented that the closure of the airports for international fights has seriously affected the aviation sector as employers were struggling to pay salaries.

He noted that effort towards the resumption of international flights was not just the work of the sector but some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) have various roles to play.

The minister explained that the purpose of the delay was to identify the best way to ensure that the people were not exposed to the risk of contracting the disease.

He said, “If it is us, we will open yesterday because when we open, the ministry will make more money, we will be able to carry on our activities, we will pay our salaries and provide the service.

“We know that some people are cut away from their families, they are cut away from their businesses but this is an act of God; so please bear with the situation, we are very responsible people and we will open when it is the right time to open and I am sure it will be sooner than later.”

NCAA Clarifies Restriction Of International Flights Into Nigeria

FG Sacks Directors Of NCAA

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has clarified the restriction of international flights into the country.

In a statement on Tuesday by its Director of Public Affairs, James Odaudu, it said flights considered essential for which permissions for landing may be sought and granted were excluded from the restriction.

According to the agency, these include aircraft in a state of emergency, overflights, and operations related to humanitarian services, as well as medical and relief services.

Others are alternate aerodromes identified in the flight plan, including those used for extended diversion time operations, technical stops where passengers do not disembark, cargo flights and other safety-related operations.

“It must be noted that, with the exception of aircraft in a state of emergency, request for approval for other flights is required and must be directed to the Honourable Minister of Aviation who is the sole authority to grant approval.

“It should be noted also that protocol for the operation and handling of such flights will be provided with each approval, while flight crew shall not have physical contact with designated government officials and ground workers,” the statement said.

The NCAA also revealed that all airline operators have been directed to deploy some measures to protect passengers and the citizens against the further spread of COVID-19 in the country.

It said all persons entering any airport terminal – domestic and international – must undergo temperature check and hand-cleaning with sanitisers, and before being allowed to board any aircraft.

The agency added that all airplanes must be disinfected before boarding by passengers, stressing that the directives have been conveyed to all airline operators.