Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Indication that flight operations may not resume on June 21st as earlier announced has emerged with the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Dr Sani Aliyu saying it will not happen as announced.
Indeed Aliyu, who spoke during a briefing on Thursday, explained that the domestic airlines were given a window of three weeks to prepare, adding that , “We did not say flights would definitely start on June 21.“
Aliyu had said on June 1 that “the aviation industry is requested to start developing protocols to allow for domestic flights to resume anytime from the 21st of June on wards.”
However, while responding to a question asking for an update on the preparation, Aliyu said the PTF was yet to receive any update from the aviation sector on its preparedness to restart flight operations.
The national coordinator said, “What we said to the aviation authorities is; you need to let us know from the 21st of June onwards if you are ready to start opening the skies. We didn’t say 21st of June skies open.
“We gave them a window of three weeks to prepare and I believe they are still preparing. We did not ask them for updates how things are going but we expect them to get back to us.
“The aviation industry is highly regulated. There are certain things they have to do before they start flying such as retraining of pilots, re-calibrating the aircraft and ensuring safety at the airport to make sure people are safe.
“We don’t have an update on that yet but we expect them to come to us by the 21st of June. If they come back to us by the 21st of June and they say we are ready on wards, we will open the skies for domestic travellers and that’s when we will address the issue of interstate restrictions and curfew but at the moment, there is no plan right now to say, 21st of June, here we go. It’s aspirational if anything.”
He regretted that the public was still not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and it has shown in their behaviours.
According to him, “It is insensitive to the memories of those who have died from COVID-19 to say the virus does not exist
“We have to change the way we see and interact with people who have COVID-19 and those who have recovered.”