Aircraft of two international airlines, British Airways (BA) and Middle Eastern Airlines (MEA), landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, (MMIA) as flights resumed yesterday amid strict safety protocols.
The MEA flight 571 came in an Airbus 332 with registration number ODMEB from Beirut, Lebanon and landed at MMIA at 13.16hours. It had 221 passengers on board and 16 crew members, while the BA flight 075 came in with a Boeing 773, registration mark GSTBG. It arrived from London and landed at 16.36 hours with 236 passengers and 13-member crew on board.
The South-West Airports Manager, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), who spoke to journalists said the airport was shut down for five months and 13 days as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.
She disclosed that while the airport was shut, it processed 192 evacuation and special flights and 1,404 cargo operations.
On the protocol that travellers would have to follow, she said that departing passengers are no longer expected to come to the airport with many people as non-travelling passengers can only stay at the drop-off zone of the terminal.
“We have been able to demarcate the gates. The first gate is for crew and staff only. The B and C gates are for passengers. We have another gate for elderly and special people. At each of these gates, we have water provided for passengers to wash their hands. We have bag sanitising stations, where passengers get their bags sanitised and the temperature of passengers are taken.
“At the passenger gate, we have infra-red cameras that can capture many people at the same time. If you try to access the place without a face mask, it will indicate that your face mask is not on. We have signs everywhere telling people what to do. The security will not allow passengers without face masks to go in. We have sanitisers at the gates.
“If you have a temperature higher than the normal, operatives of the Port Health Unit will take you to a place that has been provided just to sit down for a while and they will check you again after some minutes. If you are okay, you will be allowed to travel,” she said.
Due to the limited number of approved incoming passengers by the Ministry of Aviation, only 1,280 travelers would be allowed into the country daily per airport. The NCAA said that it is not possible to accommodate the requested schedule of airlines but over the next few weeks, as the number of allowed incoming passengers is increased, additional flight frequencies would be allocated to airlines in addition to accommodating any airline that meets the requirements for resumption of flight operations. The approved schedule is based on a maximum number of 200 passengers per incoming flight to Nigeria but there is no limit on the number of outgoing passengers.
One of the passengers who came in with MEA, Yassar Hamdan, told reporters that he tested negative for COVID-19 after undergoing a PCR test in Lebanon and he submitted his result before boarding.