Ahead of anticipated lifting of restriction on air travel in Nigeria, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has conducted simulation excercise at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja. This is to test all the protocols designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at the Airports.
Nigerian airports have been shutdown in excess three months to avert spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the aviation sector is set to reopen again.
The simulation excercise which began around 8am saw passengers go through all the protocols before boarding the Aero Contractor flight at about 11:20am. The flight was operated on a B737 marked NG110 with 51 passengers on board.
The excercise which entails a 1.5m physical distance markings, two hand wash areas and bags disinfecting area. Also hand sanitizers were placed in strategic locations even as Port Health workers were seen taking temperature levels of intending passengers.
Passengers were mandated to follow all protocols at all times.
Speaking on the excise, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika said: “The flight simulation is to achieve five things: firstly it is to maintain physical distance with each other, secondly, it is to wear protective materials such as face mask and face shield, thirdly, It is to maintain hygiene, fourthly, it is to clean the area and surfaces and that is a function of the robot itself apart from identifying the passengers. Lastly, it is to also seat in a environment that is clean and hygienic maintaining physical distancing. So we can board the aircraft decontaminated so we don’t contaminate others. All of the things that has happened here is to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19 19” he explained.
According to him, the authorities “are ensuring efficient facilitation of passengers so time is not wasted in adopting the new normal.”
“We will announce all the protocols again before opening. But you need to be at the airport three hours ahead of your flight” he stated.
“The experience is quite nice but it takes a bit of time which is why you will need to be at the airport three hours before your local flight.
For international flight, we may do five hours” he stated.
Explaining further, Sen. Sirika stated that we have demostrated here in a mock manner a sick person. You saw how the area was condoned off, the sick taken away to safe area and the scene disinfected. You saw the health workers in their PPEs come around to evacuate the sick person. All these is to adhere to the new normal he said.
“You also saw that if you are served tea or beverages, you pick it yourself in a disposable cup” he said.
“Everything for me in this demo excercise worked very well. We came and began maintaining physical distance right from the outside. All the markings are there, and we respected that. During the checking procedure, we were shielded from the check-in officials, we got our boarding passes and during boarding, we detached our boarding passes and dropped the other end without physical contact. So contacts with people have been reduced so we can remain safe” he further explained.
Speaking on the protocol inside the flight he said: “There will also be social distancing in the aircraft. But new ideas are coming on board on how to remain seated to make the carbon economical okay and to ensure we don’t infect each other. Those new norms are coming and we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable. WHO and ICAO have developed protocols of the sitting.”