The federal government has approved an increase of passengers per flight for international airlines from 116 passengers to 200 with a total of 25, 200 seats per week for both Lagos and Abuja airports.
Currently, international flights operate at only Abuja and Lagos airports and every day Lagos records 11 to 12 flights while Abuja records seven flights.
In a statement yesterday, however, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu disclosed the approval.
The statement said the federal government approved capacity increase to ‘All Foreign Airline Operators Flying Into Nigeria’ through the Air Operators Letter (AOL) dated October 2 effective date of the updated flight schedule.
The statement said: “Following the partial resumption of international flights approved by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and subsequent request for additional flight frequencies by airlines updated flight schedule is given.”
“The Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos with the new update to see on the average, 2,200 passengers daily while the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to witness averagely, 1,400 passengers on daily basis. 25, 200 seats per week are now available to foreign carrier to sell.”
Nuhu encouraged the operators “to follow guided health protocols. You shall ensure that all flights operations are conducted in compliance with Covid-19 Health protocols as issued by Aeronautical and Public Health Authorities.”
British Airways, Middle East Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways, RwandAir, Africa World Airlines, Asky, Air Cote d’Ivoire, Delta Airlines and Egypt Air are the currently approved carriers to operate into the country.
With this new development, airlines are bound to make more sales.
Meanwhile, the first scheduled international flight landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos September 6 after the over five-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government had fixed September 5 for the reopening of airports for international flights starting with the MMIA and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
Strict COVID-19 protocols were put in place by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in preparation for the reopening.
The federal government, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, released protocols for departing and arriving passengers, part of which was the negative PCR test.
As the airport reopened, the first flight operated by Middle East Airlines, ME 571 from Beirut, Lebanon, landed at the airport at about 2:18 pm with 222 passengers and 17 crew members.
The Regional Manager, South-West FAAN, Mrs. Victoria Shina-Aba, who spoke to journalists at the MMIA, said the airport was reopened exactly after five months and 13 days when it was closed to international flights.
Shina-Aba disclosed that during the flight ban, the airport processed 192 evacuation and special flights and 1,404 cargo flights.
She said a lot of measures had been put in place to boost the confidence of travellers and curb the spread of COVID-19.
On the various steps passengers would have to undergo, she advised departing passengers to come to the airport on time.
She said: “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.