Amid rising cases of Coronavirus cases in the country, the federal government has reversed its earlier position to restart domestic flights in the country on June 21, saying the plan is no longer feasible.
Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, made this known at a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
The federal government, in preparation for the resumption of domestic flights, developed guidelines and protocols for operators in the aviation sector as well as for passengers to ensure safety.
At Thursday’s PTF’s briefing, however, Sirika, who was represented by Capt Musa Nuhu, the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, said, “June 21st is not a feasible date to resume domestic operations.
“The civil aviation authority, despite pressures coming from all quarters, will not approve the start any day until we are sure and we confirm that we are ready to start in a safe, secure, organised and efficient manner. To do otherwise is disastrous for all of us.
“If we open the industry when we are not ready, and we are guilty of spreading coronavirus, God forbid we have any incident, I believe the government will come hard on us and it is going to be counterproductive and disastrous for the industry.
“We are not too far, we are close but there is a need for timing to ensure that we are ready, positively, absolutely ready to start work.”
The NCAA boss said the Authority has been holding talks with airlines, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and other stakeholders, adding that feedbacks have been received and concerns are being addressed.
He stressed that inputs are also being received from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the United Nations agency in charge of civil aviation as well as standard and recommended practices for the sector.
Nuhu noted that recommendations are also being gotten from the World Health Organisation, the International Air Transport Association, the Airport Council International, and the African Civil Aviation Commission.
“We have to adopt all these, it’s not easy; it’s a very complex process. What I can assure is that, the civil aviation authority will only give a go-ahead when we are ready, nothing further.