After five months’ lull occasioned by the cororonavirus pandemic lockdown, Middle East Airlines and British Airways resumed scheduled flights to Nigeria yesterday.
The two international carriers flew into the international wing of the Muratala Muhammed Airport, Lagos between 2.30pm and 5.45pm respectively.
The first was MEA from Beirut, Lebanon which had 222 passengers on board while BA followed later.
Men of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Aerodrome and Rescue Fire Fighters ceremonially welcomed the MEA aircraft with a water cannon demonstration.
On arrival, passengers presented their documents, including mandatory COVID-19 PCR test results for screening by the Port Health services officials while the travelling papers, passports and visas where handled by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
Speaking at the resumption of flights, the manager, south-west, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Victoria Shina-Aba, said the airport processed 192 evacuation and special flights and 1,404 cargo flights approved by the federal government during the lockdown.
Meanwhile, she said a lot of things had been put in place for passengers’ comfort as international operations kick off
On the various steps passengers will have to go through, she said, departing passengers are no longer expected to come to the airport with many people as non-travelling passengers can only stay at the drop off zone of the terminal.
“We have been able to demarcate the gates. The first gate is for crew and staff only. The B and C gates are for passengers. We have another gate for elderly and special people. At each of these gates, we have water provided for passengers to wash their hands. We have bag sanitising stations where passengers get their bags sanitized. Then the temperature of passengers is taken.
“At the passenger gate, we have infrared cameras that can capture many people at the same time. If you try to access the place without face masks, it will indicate that your face mask is not on. We have signs everywhere telling people what to do. The security will not allow passengers without face masks in. We have sanitisers at the gates.
“If you have a temperature higher than the normal, the Port health will take you to a place that has been provided just to sit down for a while and check you again after some minutes. If you are okay, you will be allowed to travel,” she explained.
She also stated that FAAN has done some social distance markings and people queue according to the markings and passengers and staff do not have direct contact.
Meanwhile, Emirates announced it will resume passenger services to Lagos and Abuja September 7 and 9 respectively.
According to a statement in Lagos yesterday, the resumption of flights to both Nigerian cities takes Emirates’ African network to 13 destinations.
The airline said flights to Lagos will operate four times a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday while flights to/from Abuja will operate three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Tickets are open for booking on emirates.com or via travel agents. The addition of the Nigerian cities expands the airline’s network to 84 destinations.
Passengers travelling from both cities in Nigeria to the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific can enjoy safe and convenient connections via Dubai, and customers can stop over or travel to Dubai as the city has re-opened for international business and leisure visitors.
To ensure the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, COVID-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound and transit passengers arriving to Dubai (and the UAE), including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from.