The Federal Government on Saturday conducted a flight simulation exercise at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, as part of preparations for the full resumption of domestic commercial flight activities.

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At the simulation exercise, led by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the government tested all protocols designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the airports.

The exercise commenced around 8 AM, as passengers went through the stipulated protocols before boarding an Aero Contractor flight at about 11:20 AM.

A Boeing B737 aircraft marked NG110 with 51 passengers on board was used for the simulation exercise at the NAIA.

During the simulation exercise, passengers maintained about two metres distance apart while boarding.

Hand wash and bags disinfecting areas were strategically located at the departure terminal, as hand sanitisers were also provided.

Port health workers checked the temperatures of the travellers.

Sirika remarked that the flight simulation was conducted to see how the safety protocols against COVID-19 could be achieved at the airports.

“All of the things that have happened here are to ensure that we don’t spread COVID-19,” the minister said.

He assured air travellers that the government would strictly observe all the protocols once the airports were fully open to flights.

Meanwhile, Sirika said intending passengers travelling abroad through the nation’s airport terminals would arrive five hours before departure to undergo COVID-19 protocols.

The Minister stated this on Saturday at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, while announcing some of the measures introduced for the reopening of the country’s airports closed, following the outbreak of the pandemic.

Sirika, who led other members of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to inspect facilities at the airport ahead of its reopening, said domestic travellers on their part would need to arrive three hours before departure for processing.

According to him, this is in a bid to reduce “ sources of contamination of the virus.”

Sirika said physical distancing had been established at various points at the airport, adding that this was done by marking the floors at the airports.

He said physical distancing would now be required to be maintained from the point of alighting from the vehicle which conveyed passengers to the airport.

“We will provide polythene bags where passengers would put all their things for protocol and we will ensure there is a minimal contact by the person screening,’’ Sirika said.

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The Minister said the number of seats at the departure lounge of the MMIA had been reduced to 50 from 500 to maintain social distancing.

He further said passengers must comply strictly with the wearing of face masks before entering the airports while aviation authorities would ensure the provision of alcohol-based sanitiser at the airports.

The PTF Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, expressed satisfaction with full compliance with COVID-19 protocols at the airport.

He said it showed that the airport was ready for reopening with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.