By Stella Enenche, Abuja
As part of preparations for resumption of flight operations in the country, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has undertaken a successful simulation excercise at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government had banned both local and international flights, in its determination to curb the spread of the dreaded disease.
The simulation exercise, which was aimed at putting to practice all necessary protocols emplaced by the federal government, was witnessed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
During the special exercise, which commenced at about 8:00am, passengers were made to undergo all the laid down protocols, preparatory to boarding the Aero Contractor flight at about 11:20am.
The said flight (Boeing 737), which had 51 passengers aboard, was marked NG110.
While the exercise lasted, a 1.5m physical distance markings was observed, even as two hand wash areas and bags disinfecting area, were all provided, to ensure strict compliance with basic protocols.
Furthermore, while hand sanitizers were placed at strategic locations, port health workers were on ground to take the temperature levels of intending passengers.
At the end of the exercise, the Aviation Minister, said:: “The flight simulation is to achieve five things: firstly it is to maintain physical distance with each other, secondly, it is to wear protective materials such as face mask and face shield.
“Thirdly, It is to maintain hygiene, fourthly, it is to clean the area and surfaces and that is a function of the robot itself apart from identifying the passengers.
Lastly, it is to also seat in an environment that is clean and hygienic, maintaining physical distancing. So we can board the aircraft decontaminated so we don’t contaminate others.
“All of the things that have happened here is to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19 19″ he explained”.
This was as he further noted, that the relevant authorities would ensure efficient facilitation of passengers, with a view to so time is not wasted in adopting the new normal.”
“We will announce all the protocols again before opening. But you need to be at the airport three hours ahead of your flight” he stated.
“The experience is quite nice but it takes a bit of time which is why you will need to be at the airport three hours before your local flight.
“For international flight, we may do five hours” he stated.
Explaining further, Sen. Sirika stated that: “We have demostrated here in a mock manner a sick person. You saw how the area was condoned off, the sick taken away to safe area and the scene disinfected. You saw the health workers in their PPEs come around to evacuate the sick person. All these is to adhere to the new normal he said.
“You also saw that if you are served tea or beverages, you pick it yourself in a disposable cup” he said.
“Everything for me in this demo excercise worked very well. We came and began maintaining physical distance right from the outside. All the markings are there, and we respected that. During the checking procedure, we were shielded from the check-in officials, we got our boarding passes and during boarding, we detached our boarding passes and dropped the other end without physical contact. So contacts with people have been reduced so we can remain safe” he further explained.
On the protocol inside the plane, Sirika said: “There will also be social distancing in the aircraft. But new ideas are coming on board on how to remain seated to make the carbon economical okay and to ensure we don’t infect each other.
“Those new norms are coming and we will implement them in such a way that flights are profitable. WHO and ICAO have developed protocols of the sitting”.
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