By Chinedu Eze
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) stating that it is extending closure of international air space until October 15, 2020.
NCAA source confirmed this development in a phone conversation with THISDAY and explained that international airports would remain closed until October, adding that there was never a time the federal government gave a specific date of reopening the airspace for international flight operations.
This implies that only essential and diplomatic flights would be allowed for now until the airspace is reopened for international flight operations.
According to the NOTAM issued by NCAA, “The federal government of Nigeria has extended the closure of our airports to all international flights with the exception of aircraft in a state of emergency. However, approval may be requested and granted to over flights, operations related to humanitarian aids, medical relief flights, alternative aerodrome in the flight plan and also those being used for extended diversion time operation, technical landing where passengers do not disembark and cargo flights and other safety related operations.”
The NOTAM was signed by NCAA Director General, Captain Musa Nuhu.
It also directed that requests should be addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
Many foreign airlines had hoped that international operations would resume earlier than October, as some expected that they would start flying to Nigeria from August 19, 2020, but the NOTAM has put an end to that expectation, prompting some international carriers that earlier planned to move staff to Nigeria to delay the plan.
In fact, some foreign airlines had already advertised August flight schedule on their websites, but the Nigerian government, which did not state why it extended the date of reopening international flights, might be responding to the global COVID-19 situation in terms of flight service.
In March 2020, the federal government shut down international airports in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. It however allowed diplomatic and essential flights.