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Nigerian airports reopen for domestic operations after months of lockdown


A security official screening a man during an evacuation of EU (European Union) citizens members before shutting all international airports in the country, in Lagos, Nigeria April 9, 2020. (Getty Images) 

Domestic flights were resumed on Wednesday in Nigeria after about three months of restrictions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest move adopted by the Nigerian government to reopen the economy.

Only airports in the capital Abuja and the center of commerce Lagos have been reopened for flights, while the other airports in the country would resume operations on July 11-15.

At the Abuja and Lagos airports, passengers waiting to embark were seen observing social distancing orders, with newly-installed handwashing facilities at the airports, and airport workers were taking the temperature of passengers and decontaminating their bags.

On Monday, the government mandated social distancing on aircraft. New measures will be taken to balance the distancing measure and economic benefits, according to Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.

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As the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization have developed guidelines of seating to keep passengers safe during air travels, Sirika said, the Nigerian government will implement them while maintaining the profitability of airlines.

On Tuesday, Godwin Balang, head of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority COVID-19 committee, told reporters that five domestic airlines had already received approval to resume commercial flights from Wednesday while others will follow suit.

Some passengers described the resumption of flight operations as a “huge relief.”

“We can easily carry out some businesses now that airlines have reopened operations. This will help my kind of business a lot,” said Obinna Okoroafor, a businessman.

Another passenger, Titilola Balogun, said she felt most delighted that the skies are open again and “we can go back to work and everybody can return to their businesses. We are happy that everything went well as planned.”

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To ensure the safety of passengers, local civil aviation authorities said there will be spot checks at intervals.

The Nigerian government suspended all commercial flights since March 23, as part of the measures to curb the pandemic.

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