While the airlines have made it clear that that they'll stick with the directives of the Federal government with regards to passenger reduction, they have asked the government to speed up its aviation intervention programmes.
All domestic airlines operations in Nigeria is set to kick off on June 21. It can be recalled that this is the date that was announced by the Federal Government for the commencement of domestic commercial flight operations.
On June 2, the Federal Government had announced that domestic flights would resume on June 21 and directed airlines to take between 50 and 70 per cent of passenger on any flight. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had said,
“The modality of operations by airlines and the passenger numbers will certainly drop and the load factor will also drop.
Only 50 or 70 per cent of the passengers should be taken. These are some of the things that we have been looking at.”
Reacting to the aviation minister’s remarks, the Communications Manager, Dana Air, Okwudili Ezenwa, said the directive was done in good faith and would be complied with, but was quick to state that the government had to support airlines. He said,
“It depends on what the government will be putting on the table in terms of support for the airlines because we know that the industry is not booming right now.
There are certain things we’ve been asking for before now, like the removal of VAT and the rest of them, which have not been implemented at the moment. So if the minister advises that we should do between 50 and 70 per cent, there’s no problem.”
Ezenwa said it would be tough to forecast how the business would pan out once flights resume fully and urged the government to fast-track its intervention in order to help airlines implement its recent directives. He said,
“We know the advice is in good faith, but we don’t know how the business is going to pan out upon resumption.
So it will be nice for the government to fast-track its intervention for airlines so that jobs can be sustained and the aviation business can thrive.
So it is in good faith and we accept his advice as the minister and at the same time ask that some of the things we’ve been asking for should be implemented.”
The Dana Air spokesperson further noted that all other guidelines of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority were being implemented by the carrier.
“The NCAA reeled out some guidelines recently and also requested trainings. It outlined some procedures and we are doing all that at the moment,” he stated.
On the serviceability of their airplanes based on the fact the machines had not been flown since the lockdown period, Ezenwa said,
“We kept our engineers on ground all through the lockdown as part of safety consciousness.
This is because there’s no way you can keep an aircraft on ground for too long without flying it. So we applied for passes for our engineers and they’ve been on ground for the past two months ensuring our aircraft are sound. We are set to fly.”
The spokesperson for Air Peace, Stanley Olisa, said the airline was ready to comply with the demands of government as regards the resumption of flights. He said,
“With respect to the date announced by the Federal Government, we are ready technically and operation-wise and we are complying with all the protocols that have been laid down by the NCAA and the aviation ministry. So we are ready.”
On the mandate by government that airlines should carry between 50 to 70 per cent passenger volume in any flight, Olisa said Air Peace was ready to obey the mandates of aviation authorities.
“What I can tell you is that we are ready to comply with the conditions given by the Federal Government. That is what I can say,” he stated.
The Corporate Communications Manager, Arik Air, Banji Ola, said Arik was set to also begin operations. He said,
“There are guidelines put in place by the NCAA and just like other airlines, we are complying with those guidelines. Everything related to the restart of operations as spelt out by the NCAA, we are complying with them. So we are ready to start operations by June 21 as directed.”
Reacting to the reduction of aircraft passengers as directed by the government, Ola said, “All I know is that we are ready for the guidelines set by the NCAA and also ready to fly from June 21.”