Following the resumption of international flights in Lagos and Abuja airports from Saturday, investigations by Sunday PUNCH have revealed that there will be about 15,000 passengers flying into the country weekly.
The Federal Government had after shifting the resumption of international flights from August 29 to September 5 noted that only the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos would be opened for operations.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, also said 14 international airlines had been granted approval to operate in the country while eight others were not given approval, for different reasons.
Those given approval to commence flights include British Airways, Middle East Airlines, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Asky Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Air Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya Airways, Emirates Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
Those not given approval to operate include Air France, KLM Royal Dutch, Etihad Airways, Rwanda Air, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa and TAAG Angola. It noted that South African Airways and Cabo Verde had not been cleared because their international flights had yet to resume.
Meanwhile, findings by Sunday PUNCH revealed that about 15,000 passengers might be arriving in the country weekly through the two airports.
The United Kingdom, the United States and China have been identified as choice destinations for Nigerians. Incidentally, they are countries with high number of coronavirus cases.
A document from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to the airlines, a copy of which was obtained by one of our correspondents, showed that there would be 88 flights to the two airports; 47 flights into the Lagos airport and 41 into Abuja airport weekly.
According to the document, signed by the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, each flight could only carry a maximum of 200 passengers, regardless of the fact that many of the aircraft used by the foreign airlines have an average capacity of about 300 passengers.
Thus, estimation by Sunday PUNCH showed that the 88 weekly flights into the two airports multiplied by the 200 passengers approved per flight would give 17,600 passengers weekly.
From the document, the airlines allowed to fly to/from Lagos on Mondays are Turkish Airlines, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways, Africa World Airlines, Emirates and British Airways. British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to operate in Abuja.
On Tuesdays, British Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to fly to/from Lagos, while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Africa World Airlines and Turkish Airlines are allowed to operate to/from Abuja.
On Wednesdays, Delta Airlines, Emirates, Air Senegal, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Middle East Airlines are to operate in Lagos airport while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines, Air Cote d’Ivoire and Africa World Airlines are allowed to operate to/from Abuja.
On Thursdays, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Egypt Air, Virgin Atlantic, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways and Africa World Airlines have approval to fly into Lagos while British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Africa World Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire have approval to fly to/from Abuja.
On Fridays, Air Senegal, Asky Airlines, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways and Middle East Airlines are allowed to fly to/from Lagos while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines and Middle East Airlines have approval to fly to/from Abuja.
On Saturdays, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to operate in Lagos while British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Middle East Airlines and Turkish Airlines are allowed to fly to/from Abuja.
On Sundays, Delta Air, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines are allowed to fly to/from Lagos, while British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to fly to/from Lagos.
Sequel to the resumption of flights on Saturday since the closure of the international airports in March, Middle East Airlines made the first entry into the Lagos airport on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Emirates has said it will resume passenger services to Lagos on September 7 and Abuja on September 9, noting that it remains committed to the safety of its customers through the implementation of all health and safety measures.
A statement on behalf of Emirates by the Deputy Manager, Client Service, JSP Communications, Oluwatosin Mojeed, on Saturday said, “Passengers travelling from both cities (Lagos and Abuja) in Nigeria to the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific can enjoy safe and convenient connections via Dubai. Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, COVID-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound and transit passengers arriving in Dubai (and the UAE).”
Also, Egypt Air in a statement by its General Manager in Lagos, Muharram Abdel Rahman, said it would start its flights from Nigeria from September 8, noting that first flight from Lagos would be on Tuesday, September 8, while that of Nigeria would be on September 10.
US-based Delta Airlines plans to begin flights to Nigeria on September 9 while London-based Virgin Atlantic plans to begin flying to Lagos on September 10. Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying to Abuja on September 7 and Lagos on September 8.
UK warns citizens to avoid Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, seven others
Also, with the resumption of international flights, the UK has issued restrictions on internal travel and public gatherings to its citizens in Nigeria and those seeking to come into the country.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in a statement titled, ‘Foreign Travel Advice: Nigeria,’ on GOV.UK, stated that all but essential international travel continued to apply for Nigeria.
The FCDO noted that it continued to advise UK citizens against all travels to Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe including riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states and within 20km of the border with Niger in Zamfara State.
It added, “The FCDO continues to advise against all but essential travel to Abia, Bauchi, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi, Zamfara, Kano and Kaduna states. Within 20km of the state border with Kaduna and Zamfara states in Niger State, west of the Kaduna River. Within 20km of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi states. Non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states.
“You should avoid places where crowds gather, including political meetings, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people.
“There is a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnappings can be motivated by criminality or terrorism and could be carried out for financial or political gain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the risk of kidnap increases after dark.”
The statement further stated that before considering travel to areas to which the FCDO advised against or all but essential travel, UK citizens should take professional security advice.