The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says six airlines have passed the airworthiness requirements in readiness for the resumption of commercial flight operations.
Ita Awak, NCAA director for airworthiness standards, disclosed this during a webinar that held on Tuesday night till the early hours of Wednesday.
The webinar participants included Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation; Musa Nuhu, NCAA director-general; and Sanni Aliyu the national coordinator of the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19.
“Six of the airlines have crossed the mark from the point of view of airworthiness. We have asked all the airlines that they should use only reagents that are approved by the original equipment manufacturers of their different aircraft types to disinfect their machines,” Awak said.
Godwin Balang, NCAA general manager for airline operators certificate and surveillance, said the agency has received restart plans from 20 aviation operators, including the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“We have received from FAAN, plan on Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt; Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri; while those of Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja came later,” Balang said.
Reacting to plans by some airlines to keep the middle row empty upon flight resumption, Samson Fatokun, West Africa area manager of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), warned that airlines would not break even with the proposed 70 percent load factor.
Allen Onyeama, CEO of Air Peace airline, also said the situation might not be sustainable as airlines would have to transfer the cost of the empty seats to customers.
“All over the world, the biggest airlines are emphasizing it. It doesn’t really make any sense. That depletes the resources of these airlines. it will definitely kill the airlines because the purchasing power of the Nigerian people is very low.
“If you want to now distribute the cost on the few people who are flying, about 50 percent or 70 percent who are flying, maybe an aircraft of about 140-seater, you are flying only 90 people, you have to distribute the other seats not being flown on the passengers
“Can Nigerians afford N70,000 worth of ticket on less than one-hour flight?”
The tentative date for the resumption of domestic flights in the country is June 21, 2020.