Airlines face low patronage as flights resume amid strict safety protocols

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Airlines face low patronage as flights resume amid strict safety protocols
Airlines face low patronage as flights resume amid strict safety protocols

Four domestic airlines resumed operations at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (2), Lagos and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) Wednesday, June 8 amidst low passenger patronage.

The domestic airlines that operated included Arik Air, Air Peace, Max Air and Ibom Air which flew on Lagos-Abuja routes with about 50 to 60 per cent load factor, as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) also approved flight operations for Dana Air and Aero Contractors. The airlines kept to the flight distancing protocol of the NCAA with Arik Air Lagos-Abuja flight departing at 7:15 am while Max Air left at 11 am.

Most of the airlines flew with about 60 per cent capacity as Arik Air carried 78 passengers on its Boeing 737 aircraft which normally carried an average of 150 to 200 passengers. The airline carried about 80 passengers while on its second flight on Lagos-Abuja flight, with passengers wearing face masks and observed social distancing.

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Similarly, all passengers used hand sanitisers while temperature gauge was used to check their body temperatures.

This was as flight tickets on the routes increased on Lagos to Abuja, Port Harcourt or Owerri by 48 per cent to N33,000 and N41, 000 as against between N22,000 to N28,000.

Meanwhile, Air Peace, one of the airlines given clearance by NCAA, has urged its customers to embrace online booking and check-in, employing its user-friendly Mobile App, as a means of minimising physical contact.

The airline’s spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, said Air Peace has put in place measures to protect both passengers and staff pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight, adding that the flying public need not worry if they comply with all health protocols. He said the airline has thoroughly disinfected all its aircraft and the flight crew are current as well as COVID-19 conscious.

He urged passengers to always wear their face masks before entering the airport terminal and while onboard and should be ready to submit themselves for temperature checks before boarding.

“If you’ve been following our social media platforms, you will have seen robust sensitisation content in form of videos showing what is expected of our passengers in this COVID-19 dispensation”, Olisa stated.

Dana Air announced the resumption of its flight services for  July 9, saying it will operate three daily flights from Lagos to Abuja and back while the date for flights to Port Harcourt and Owerri will be announced later.

Obi Mbanuzuo, the Chief Operating Officer of Dana Air while speaking on the preparedness of the airline said,  Dana Air is ready to fly safely again from July 9. We have worked round the clock with the NCAA to achieve this safe resumption of flights and we are introducing other initiatives soon in line with the present realities and the need to minimize contacts at the airport.

“We have disinfected all our aircraft, provided all our staff with the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been made available at our check-in, boarding gates and on board the aircraft for guests and we have an optimized cleaning protocol in place as recommended by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). We have also created a boarding strategy which will give our passengers some sense of safety onboard our aircraft.” Aero also received approval to start operation July 9.