Flight resumption: Over 15,000 passengers from China, US, UK to arrive Nigeria weekly

Following the resumption of international flights in Lagos and Abuja airports from Saturday, investigations by Sunday PUNCH have revealed that there will be about 15,000 passengers flying into the country weekly.

The Federal Government had after shifting the resumption of international flights from August 29 to September 5 noted that only the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos would be opened for operations.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, also said 14 international airlines had been granted approval to operate in the country while eight others were not given approval, for different reasons.

Those given approval to commence flights include British Airways, Middle East Airlines, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Asky Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Air Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya Airways, Emirates Airlines and Turkish Airlines.

Those not given approval to operate include Air France, KLM Royal Dutch, Etihad Airways, Rwanda Air, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa and TAAG Angola. It noted that South African Airways and Cabo Verde had not been cleared because their international flights had yet to resume.

Meanwhile, findings by Sunday PUNCH revealed that about 15,000 passengers might be arriving in the country weekly through the two airports.

The United Kingdom, the United States and China have been identified as choice destinations for Nigerians. Incidentally, they are countries with high number of coronavirus cases.

A document from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to the airlines, a copy of which was obtained by one of our correspondents, showed that there would be 88 flights to the two airports; 47 flights into the Lagos airport and 41 into Abuja airport weekly.

According to the document, signed by the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, each flight could only carry a maximum of 200 passengers, regardless of the fact that many of the aircraft used by the foreign airlines have an average capacity of about 300 passengers.

Thus, estimation by Sunday PUNCH showed that the 88 weekly flights into the two airports multiplied by the 200 passengers approved per flight would give 17,600 passengers weekly.

From the document, the airlines allowed to fly to/from Lagos on Mondays are Turkish Airlines, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways, Africa World Airlines, Emirates and British Airways. British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to operate in Abuja.

On Tuesdays, British Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to fly to/from Lagos, while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Africa World Airlines and Turkish Airlines are allowed to operate to/from Abuja.

On Wednesdays, Delta Airlines, Emirates, Air Senegal, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Middle East Airlines are to operate in Lagos airport while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines, Air Cote d’Ivoire and Africa World Airlines are allowed to operate to/from Abuja.

On Thursdays, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Egypt Air, Virgin Atlantic, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways and Africa World Airlines have approval to fly into Lagos while British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Africa World Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire have approval to fly to/from Abuja.

On Fridays, Air Senegal, Asky Airlines, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways and Middle East Airlines are allowed to fly to/from Lagos while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines and Middle East Airlines have approval to fly to/from Abuja.

On Saturdays, British Airways, Delta Airlines,  Qatar Airways, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to operate in Lagos while British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Africa World Airlines, Middle East Airlines and Turkish Airlines are allowed to fly to/from Abuja.

On Sundays, Delta Air, Air Senegal, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines are allowed to fly to/from Lagos, while British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines and Air Cote d’Ivoire are allowed to fly to/from Lagos.

Sequel to the resumption of flights on Saturday since the closure of the international airports in March, Middle East Airlines made the first entry into the Lagos airport on Saturday.