The Federal Government on Thursday shifted the resumption date for the commencement of international flights into and out of Nigeria from August 29 to September 5.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had announced on August 17 that international flights would resume on August 29 following pressures from the public for the resumption of the flights.

But at Thursday’s briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, declared that international flights would not resume as earlier announced.

He said September 5 was picked as the new date for international flights resumption, stressing that there were still issues to be sorted out before allowing international carriers to operate into and out of Nigeria.

When Sirika announced that international flights into and out of Nigeria would resume on August 29, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had stated that the date was not sacrosanct.

But Nuhu declared on Thursday said the new September 5 date was sacrosanct, as everything was being done to ensure that operations resume next week Saturday.

The NCAA boss said, “Since the announcement by the Minister of Aviation a few weeks ago that international flights will resume anytime from August 29, the aviation sector has worked assiduously to be ready for this date.

“The aviation sector including the airports is ready to resume on the 29th. However, we have other non-aviation logistics we are still working on mostly to do with the COVID-19 protocols, tests, and online platforms.

“We need to get this in place so that we will have a smooth and efficient resumption of international flights without difficulties for all the passengers.

“So, for this reason, unfortunately, I have to let you know that the resumption date has been shifted by one week to the 5th of September which is now a sacrosanct date.”

Nuhu said in due course, once the logistics were completed, the government would announce the protocols for the resumption.

“Also, we will be giving further details on the principle of reciprocity we have mentioned. So, hopefully early next week, we will release this,” he stated.

International flights were suspended by the Federal Government across the country about five months as a result of the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The aviation minister had explained that like it was done during the resumption of domestic flights across the country, the international flights would commence with two major airports.

Sirika named the airports as the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Punch