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INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS RESUMPTION: NIGERIA COMMENCES PREPARATION OF PROTOCOLS

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Nigeria has commenced work on the protocols for a safe resumption of international flight operations in order to get it ready for when it becomes possible and appropriate.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu disclosed this at Tuesday’s aviation stakeholders webinar he convened ahead of Wednesday’s resumption of domestic flights across the country.

Reacting to a comment in respect of the commencement of international flights, said that it will ‘start when it will start‘, noting that ongoing preparations were strictly on local flights, as protocols for international flight operations are significantly different from those of domestic flights.

He noted also that even if international flights open, it doesnt make sense as nobody is coming in and nobody is going out.

Capt Musa Nuhu
DG, NCAA

He called the attention of participants to the fact that Nigeria wasn’t among the countries whose citizens were allowed to fly into European countries at the moment, so any talk about reopening international airports at the moment is preposterous.

On the level of preparedness and plans that have been put in place to ensure hitch free flights in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, it was disclosed that airlines are 94.44% prepared; Domestic airports are 87 %; Ground Handlers 75%; Aviation Security >75%; while Air Traffic Organisations(ATOs) and Approved Maintenance Organisations(AMOs) are both above average.

Speaking further, Nuhu noted that the NCAA will do its best to control the crowds at the terminals especially the Lagos airport, and urged airlines to provide their schedule to NAMA to avoid delays in landing.

On plans to enfore COVID-19 guidelines inside the aircraft cabin, he said that it is the duty of the airlines, as NCAA is only there to monitor.

“One can be denied entry into the the airport terminal or ejected from the flight and so on, we will monitor and anywhere we see gaps, we will take actions. NCAA will not accept impunity and disregard for regulations. It is a collective responsibility and everybody must stand up and play their roles , NCAA cannot do everyone’s job”.

“A lot of people are watching Nigeria’s effort ahead of this reopening and we did our work in-house. if we work as a team and get our acts together, we will take the industry to a greater height. There is a huge potential in the aviation industry but we need to wake up. Yes, NCAA is at the centre but we need to work together to ensure that Nigeria benefits from the potential in the industry”, he said.

Responding to a comment on flight delays, he noted that flight delays are inevitable, as no operator wants to delay flights, adding that they always work to minimize delays.

Addressing the issue of post COVID-19 usage of ICT, he said that NCAA will start leveraging on technology for its duties internally, before it will go trickle down to third parties. “We will change internal policy on technology and anybody that will want to do business will have to adapt. Hopefully, in two years, there will be significant changes in NCAA operations. It will be a paradigm shift from the way we do business”, he said.

In his presentation, the NCAA General Manager, Air Operators Certification and Surveillance, Engr. Godwin Balang noted that Air Navigation Service Provider, the Nigerian AirspaceManagementAgency (NAMA) The NCAA on his part, noted that the Authority will do its best to control the crowds at the terminals especially the Lagos airport, and urged airlines to provide their schedule to NAMA to avoid delays in landing.

Speaking on enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines inside the aircraft, he stated that it is the duty of the airlines, as NCAA is only there to monitor.

According to him, “One can be denied entry into the the airport terminal or ejected from the flight and so on, we will monitor and anywhere we see gaps, we will take actions. NCAA will not accept impunity and disregard for regulations. It is a collective responsibility and everybody must stand up and play their roles , NCAA cannot do everyone’s job.

“A lot of people are watching Nigeria’s effort ahead of this reopening and we did our work in-house. if we work as a team and get our acts together, we will take the industry to a greater height. There is a huge potential in the aviation industry but we need to wake up. Yes, NCAA is at the centre but we need to work together to ensure that Nigeria benefits from the potential in the industry”, he said.

Responding to a comment on flight delays, he noted that flight delays are inevitable, as no operator wants to delay a flight, adding that they work to minimize delays.

On the use of ICT post COVID-19, he said that NCAA will start leveraging on technology for its duties internally, before it will go trickle down to third parties. “We will change internal policy on technology and anybody that will want to do business will have to adapt. Hopefully, in two years, there will be significant changes in NCAA operations. It will be a paradigm shift from the way we do business”, he said.

Speaking on aviation industry preparedess, NCAA’s General Manager Air Operator Certification and Surveillance, Engr. Godwin Balang, noted that Air Navigation Service Provider the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency(NAMA) was 91% prepared in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port-Harcourt, Owerri and Uyo Airports; while the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) was 93% prepared at the six airports.

He disclosed that the average level of preparedness of the eight (8) scheduled operators namely; Aero Contractors ; Air Peace Limited; Arik Air Limited, Azman Air, Dana Airlines, Ibom Air, Max Air Limited, and Overland’s Airways Limited was 94.44%.

On Domestic Airports preparedness, he said that Lagos (MMIA GAT & MM2) are both 92.85%, Kano 89%, Port-Harcourt 85%, Abuja, 89%, Uyo 82% while Owerri is the weakest link with 78% readiness.

According to Balang, the idea of the protocols is to ensure safe travels, physically and health wise, and urged Nigerians to ensure that the processes which took a lot of efforts to develop, be put into practice.

“Airlines should be deliberate on how it will manage risk in this period, it should not be reactive but proactive. Risk assessment should be based on actual content and I implore all to use the guidelines as reality and put them into practice”.

“We should get our minds ready for the worst tomorrow, we have issued guidelines but we should go with the mind that it will be rowdy tomorrow so that we do our risk mitigation around that”, he said.

On his part, the Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Captain Fola Akinkuotu, revealed that the Agency wrote to all airlines to submit possible schedule but only Azman,Arik and Max Air responded, noting that the low response makes it difficult to plan on flight sequencing and frequency.

“We plan to discuss everything with FAAN to know how much space are in the departure and arrival terminal. We will ensure that nobody is disadvantaged, and if need be, we will draw straws on who goes first but we can’t make scientific decisions with the kind of data we have. NAMA can only work with airlines that have complied”, he remarked.

He assured that there will be no chaos Wednesday and it will be in the interest of the airlines to submit their schedule to ensure proper planning.

Speaking on the use of technology for NAMA’s operations going forward, he stated that the Agency intends to aggressively address the issues of dealing with some of the constraints they had in the past using technology.

“We are in the process of deploying on our clearance portal and to link our clients on a payment platform to reduce physical contact. We will leverage on technology as much as possible to make it easier for our clients to get services”, he ended.

In his contribution, the Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria(FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, noted that the Authority doesn’t intend to have its lounges filled up, adding that they are trying to maintain a capacity that will be 100 percent in the terminal.

“We are working to expand the Lagos airport, to fix issues there and we will ensure that there is no issues in Lagos”, he stated.

Captain Roy Ilegbodu, Managing Director, Arik Air while commending the efforts of the Aviation Minister and his team in preparing the airports and the airlines for the resumption, noted that COVID-19 has impacted the aviation industry on a scale it has not seen before, and urged everyone to remain prepared to continue to learn and adapt as they go.

In his contribution, Dr.Samson Fatokun- of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) noted that many nations were watching Nigeria to see how the country would fare with this reopening, adding that compliance of all stakeholders to protocols was important.

He restated IATA’s support to Nigeria to realize an error free industry restart and recovery from the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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COVID-19: Nigeria Bans Flights From India, Brazil and Turkey

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Reduces PCR Test to 72 Hours from 96 Hours

…To Fine Airline $3,500 For Each Defaulting Passenger

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19,  has reduced the COVID–19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for all Nigeria-bound passengers from 96  to 72 hours.

This is just as the Committee also stated that PCR test results older than 72 hours before departure shall not be accepted;

The Committee came to this conclusion after due consideration and agreed to implement these  protocols as it concerns Brazil, India and Turkey.

According to the Committee non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents, who visited Brazil, India or Turkey within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria, shall be denied entry into Nigeria, adding that this regulation, however, does not apply to passengers who transited through these countries.

The  Committee said that the following measures shall apply to airlines and passengers, who fail to comply with I and II(a) above:
Airlines, it said  shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 for each defaulting passenger while non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the Airline.

A statement signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/ Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19,Mr. Boss  Mustapha, explained that Nigerians and those with permanent resident permit who visited Brazil, India or Turkey within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria shall be made to undergo seven  days of mandatory quarantine in a Government approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at cost to the passenger.

The following condition , he said shall apply to such passengers within 24 hours of arrival shall take a COVID-19 PCR test. adding that if positive, the passenger shall be admitted within a government-approved treatment centre, in line with National treatment protocols.

If Negative, the passenger shall continue to remain in quarantine and made to undergo a repeat PCR test on day 7 of their quarantine.
Mustapha said that passenger(s) arriving in Nigeria from other destinations must observe a 7-day self-isolation at their final destination.

The passenger shall carry out a COVID-19 PCR test on day 7 at selected laboratory. and shall be monitored for compliance to isolation protocol by appropriate authorities.

The Committee warned that passenger(s) who provided false or misleading contact information will be liable to prosecution while person(s) who willfully disregard or refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

“State Governments are required to ensure that all returning travelers from ALL countries are monitored to ensure adherence to the mandatory seven-day self-isolation period and the repeat COVID-19 PCR test on the seventh day after arrival.

“We urge members of the public to adhere to all COVID-19 preventive measures in place including adherence to the national travel protocol, proper use of face mask, regular hand washing and physical distancing.

“This travel advisory shall come into effect from TUESDAY 4TH day of May 2021. The guidelines provided in this document shall be subject to review after an initial period of 4 weeks,” the Committee said.

The Committee said that its action is part of effort to continue to safeguard the health of the Nigerian population, as well as to minimize the risk of a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, the Presidential Steering Committee carried out a risk assessment of countries with high incidence of cases.

The risk assessment, according to the Committee  took into consideration the epidemiology of cases, prevalence of variants of concern and average passenger volume between Nigeria and each country among other indicators.

It stated that of the countries assessed, this interim travel advisory applies to three countries in the first instance and that these precautionary measures are a necessary step to minimize the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases introduced to Nigeria from other countries, while national response activities continue.

It  advised Nigerians to avoid any non-essential international travels to any country at this period and specifically to countries that are showing rising number of cases and deaths.

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 said it has over the last few weeks been monitoring with concern, the increasing trend of COVID-19 cases in several countries, with additional focus on countries with high incidence, fatality rate and widespread prevalence of variants of concern.

The Government of Nigeria, the Committee  deeply empathizes with the citizens and governments of these countries and assures them of our commitment, unflinching support and solidarity at this time of need

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NAMA CERTIFIES 24 NEW AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS, 30 OLD ONES IN DIFFERENT CATEGORIES

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NAMA logo

In a bid to boost capacity and efficiency of air traffic management in the country the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has obtained licenses for 24 newly recruited air traffic control officers from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Organization (NCAA) after successfully undergoing the necessary training and examination on Aerodrome and Approach Control.

The new air traffic controllers are currently being posted to strategic aerodromes in the country according to their need.

In the same vein the agency has also recertified a total of 30 air traffic controllers in different categories air traffic control including Terminal Approach Radar, Area Procedural Control and Area Surveillance Control after passing the required proficiency/rating tests and certified mentally fit in line with Annex 1 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and part II of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (NCAR).

Making this disclosure in a statement, the Managing Director of NAMA Capt. Fola Akinkuotu recalled that from year 2020 to date, the agency recertified a total of 194 air traffic controllers in addition to their periodic training and retraining, targeted at keeping them up to speed with latest skills and technology in air traffic management to ensure they remain competitive with their peers globally.

The NAMA helmsman also revealed that in order to reduce delays and congestion in the nation’s airspace the agency has commenced the construction of Aerodrome and Approach Control simulator at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos as a pilot project to be replicated in Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

Akinkuotu who noted that the safety of the Nigerian airspace remained a cardinal goal of the agency also enjoined air traffic controllers to continue putting in their best in order to justify government’s huge investment in building critical infrastructure as well as capacity of personnel

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Azman Air on Course to Resume Operations Soon- NCAA

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Azman Air, a privately-owned airline, is following guidelines of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to advance standard in its operations, Mr Sam Aderogboye, NCAA General Manager, Public Relation, has said.

Aderogboye made this known on Thursday in Abuja during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The general manager said the airline had significantly fulfilled the recommendation made by NCAA following a series of incidents involving Azman Air Boeing 737 Aircraft.

He said considering Section 35 (2) of Civil Aviation Act, 2006, and Part 1.3.3.3 (A) of Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015, NCAA suspended operations of all Boeing 737 aircraft in Azman’s fleet.

He added that the suspension was with immediate effect from March 15, 2021, till date.

According to him, the suspension is to enable the authorities conduct an audit of the airline to determine the root causes of the incidents, and recommend corrective actions to forestall re-occurrence.

“NCAA regrets the inconvenience this action may cause to the public, particularly to Azman air passengers, but the need to ensure the safety of air transport and protect the public interest cannot be compromised.

“NCAA will continue to ensure compliance with its regulations in the interest of safety and will view any violation(s) seriously,“ he said.

In a related development during an interview NAN, a top rank Official of Azman Air , who pleaded anonymity, said the airline was responding to issues raised by NCAA.

According to him, NCAA is happy with the level of compliance the airline had undergone during the suspension to maintain standard in the aviation industry.

“We stopped on 15th march. NCAA suspended us due to incidences that concurrently happened, and they decided to conduct an audit on our operations.

“We are responding to all issues raised by NCAA, right now we are conducting some refreshers training, we almost closed all gaps highlighted, we assure you that we will come back stronger and better.

“NCAA are delighted with our responses as stated by NCAA Director General last week. Though, we are on top of situations when it comes to maintenance but the questioned incidences occurred naturally,“ he said. (NAN)

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