International Flights Will Open When It Is Safe – Sirika

Federal Government has said it is making efforts to review the ban imposed on international flights in the country.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made this known on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja.

He stated that the government is planning to reopen the airports for international flights as soon as possible but would do so at a time considered to be safe.

Sirika noted;

We have received a tremendous amount of emails and WhatsApp messages and phone calls and so on and so forth, that we should open up international flights. And, of course, we have taken it for granted that people understood that it is not a function of aviation alone, otherwise, there would not have been a task force.

The minister stressed;

Certainly, aviation is the worst hit in this (pandemic). There must be passenger movements, especially international passenger for us to be able to survive. So, we want to open more than you want to open.

But this is subject to so many factors and all of the sacrifices the aviation is making is in the interest of the public; in the interest of all of us to stay safe.

He added;

The government will not abdicate its responsibility of ensuring that all of us stay safe. We definitely will open. We will open very soon when everything seems to be okay and is safe.

Sirika lamented that the closure of the airports for international fights has seriously affected the aviation sector as employers were struggling to pay salaries.

He noted that effort towards the resumption of international flights was not just the work of the sector but some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) have various roles to play.

The minister explained that the purpose of the delay is to identify the best way to ensure that the people were not exposed to the risk of contracting the disease.

He said;

If it is up to us, we will open yesterday because when we do that, the ministry will make more money, we will be able to carry on our activities, we will pay our salaries and provide the service.

Sirika added;

We know that some people are cut away from their families, they are cut away from their businesses but this is an act of God; so please bear with the situation, we are very responsible people and we will open when it is the right time to open and I am sure it will be sooner than later.

He revealed that various MDAs such as Ministry of Aviation, Foreign Affairs, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Customs, Immigration and others will be having a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, July 28) to further discuss the protocols to open the airports.

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