Ahead of the planned June 21 set by the Federal Government for airlines in Nigeria resume operations, after a 10-week shut down by the Federal Government, Capt. Ado Sanusi, Managing Director of Aero Contractors, one of the country’s oldest carriers, said Tuesday night that although airlines are ready for a return to the skies, there is a need for caution. Aero is one of the airlines under management by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Recall that the nation’s airspace was closed as part of measures to curtail the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Sanusi who was a guest on Channels Television to discuss the restart programme for the airlines in the country, warned that some of the protocols outlined by the Nigerian aviation regulators, such as disinfecting aircrafts, must conform to international best practice and have inputs from the aircraft manufacturers.
A statement by Jude Nwuzor, spokesman of AMCON, quoted Sanusi as explaining that aviation is highly regulated, hence the need for care by the Nigerian authorities when it come to aviation business.
For him, “it is not like parking a car for long and then jumping into the car, starting it and driving… Yes we have some protocols that needs to be done but in every context we (Aero) are ready to start anytime from now, and I believe most of the airlines too have gone far in all the protocols the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority wants us to do.
“Most of them are trainings and some kind of manuals that we need to do and some are also are the acquisition of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that we need to have for the crew and some are reviewing the procedures that we need to do during check in and disembarking as well as disinfecting the aircraft to get them ready for takeoff,” he stressed.
On Friday June 5, he noted, the Federal Ministry of Environment will be at the airport to disinfect the airplanes.
But as they do so, “we must look at what they will use to disinfect the planes because it must be in confirmation with what the manufacturers say we can use to disinfect inside the airplane,” he said.
The Aero Contractors’ boss said talks are already ongoing with the NCAA and the Ministry of Environment to ensure that that the chemicals to be used for disinfecting “the airplanes must be approved by the manufacturers, because we are also governed by the manufacturers and we do not want to use anything that would affect the safety of the airplane.”
On social distancing inside the airplane, he said it is not realistic to achieve social distancing inside a single-aisle plane, but that operators could focus attention on ensuring that all protocols at the airport and in the aircraft are strictly followed in line with short/domestic flights as recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
If that is done, he believes, the possibility of contracting COVID-19 inside the airplane will be minimized to zero.