In April, Minister of Environment, Muhammad Abubakar said the federal government will decontaminate 125 aircrafts and 13 airports.
He said at the time that the “Aviation sector is such a specialized sector. We cannot rush things. I did say that we’ve mapped out 125 aircraft and 13 airports.
“So far, we’ve decontaminated and disinfected two aircraft. Why we’re not rushing it is because of the nature of the industry.
“It’s a place that when it comes to safety, everything must be followed carefully, and even when we want to do that, we have to follow their lead as to how and where to go while decontaminating the aircraft.
“For the airports, we need to be led on where we need to go, how and when we need to. The decontamination is ongoing because there are other facilities we’re decontaminating across the country. So, we’ll go as soon as they’re ready for us.”
While activities in the airports have been grounded for more than three months now, except for essential flight operations, the government has set a July 8 return date for the resumption of domestic flight activities. This may be necessitated by the importance of the aviation sector to the nation’s economy.
The Ministry of Aviation reported in the past that it doesn’t want flight operations to be a vector for the mass transmission of COVID-19 in the country.
In a sharp contrast with what the Minister of Environment stated earlier, none of the regular aircrafts and airports has been decontaminated six days to the set resumption date.
The Minister on Thursday, July 2nd in a statement during the Press briefing of the PTF COVID-19 said the decontamination has been left to the airlines to carry out, in a new development.
“There hasn’t been contamination of any aircraft. The reason is the nature of the aircrafts. We have been talking with the NCAA and at some points, from the beginning, it was agreed that a certain chemical that could be used to disinfect aircrafts but later we realised that different manufacturers have different specifications for the chemicals that can be used to decontaminate and disinfect so the airlines decided to contact their own manufacturers of chemicals.
“This is for two reasons; for the purpose of additional security and safety on air. The airlines are taking care of that. Earlier on, I revealed that we are also disinfecting two aircrafts and they are cargo aircrafts. We have also disinfected the cargo bay. There are slightly different protocols for passenger aircrafts and cargo aircrafts. This is where we are.”
Recall that ALEDEH reported that dry test of flight operations and how to follow COVID-19 guidelines were held in the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
These were in preparation for the return of domestic flight operations but without decontamination and disinfection of the most important parts of the sector, questions are popping about the readiness of the country to resume aviation operations in this delicate period of a raging global pandemic.