Uche Usim, Abuja
Amid fears by the flying public over the astronomical rise in airfare and the health risks associated with zero physical distancing onboard aircrafts, the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, on Saturday calmed tensed nerves over the issues, saying there was no cause for alarm.
Sirika, monitoring flights as more domestic carriers resume operations, explained that aircraft cabins are safer than any hospital theatre because of purifying procedures air circulated within the cabin goes through.
He added that once passengers wore face masks, there was zero risk of COVID-19 transmission.
‘Sitting on an airplane and because of the nature of the airplane, it is hygienic enough. Once you have your mask, you are safe to remain seated and where possible, we will keep the distance, the minister assured.
‘Let me explain the mechanics that makes it hygienic and safe during COVID-19 period. Airplanes today are designed in such a way that ambient air at altitude is clean, it is not contaminated.
‘The aircraft is pressurised and heated to about 100 degrees Celsius before cooling. No virus can survive this procedure. So, the filtration system ensures every single organism or virus does not survive. The air filtration and circulation happens about every two minutes. So, if you are going to Lagos, it will happen close to 30 times,’ the Aviation Minister explained
According to him, the Federal Government would not restart the aviation sector if necessary safety protocols were not in place.
He noted that retaining the original seating arrangement onboard aircrafts was a guarantee that air tickets will remain within the threshold they were before the lockdown.
To have a first-hand experience of the airports and airlines’ readiness to operate in full blast, Sirika, the National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, the Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Sen Ibrahim Shekarau and others embarked on an Abuja-Kano-Abuja service on Saturday.
The Aviation Minister expressed satisfaction that Kano airport was ready for safe business.
He explained that Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri, and Owerri airports came on stream on Saturday after Lagos and Abuja blazed the trail before last week.
Sirika revealed that other airports, aside from the aforementioned, will resume operations on July 15.