Four domestic airlines yesterday started local flight operations from Lagos Airport after about four months of suspension following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic
They are Arik Air, Air Peace, Max and Ibom air.
Overland airways approved to fly has moved the start of operations to 15th of July.
The first flight to Abuja from Lagos was operated by Arik with an above average passenger load factor.
The flight slated for 7.00 am took off at about 7.15am, with passengers boarding from the General Aviation Terminal One under the supervision of officials of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.
Arik’s spokesman, Mr. Banji Ola, in an interview expressed satisfaction with the passenger traffic, orderliness and cooperation.
He applauded the arrangements put in place by the airports authority to ensure the safety of passengers.
Air Peace flight PA47120 from Lagos to Abuja with 103 passengers on board excluding the crew, departed at 11.50am from the GAT One.
Ibom Air also departed with about 80 passengers on board while Max Air started boarding at 10.10am from MM2
At the Murtala Muhammed Terminal, MM2 operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services, Ibom Air counter personnel attended to passengers seeking boarding passes.
Head of operations, Ibom Air, Mr. Lookman Animashau, said the airline would be operating just one flight today and subsequent increase the flights as more passengers turn up.
He said the Covid-19 safety protocols or measures in place at the airport indicated that the industry was good to go.
An aviation consultant, Mr. Tayo Ojuri, who was onboard an Air Peace flight said some passengers were complaining that while they were on ground, there was social distancing but onboard they sat close to each other.
He stressed that passengers needed education in this on social distancing inside the aircraft.
Passengers arrived at the airport as early as 5.00 am to commence boarding formalities.
On arrival, their hands were sanitized, temperatures checked and luggage disinfected before going into the terminal to queue, maintaining social distancing to get their passes before heading to the screening area and onward to the departure lounge to wait for boarding announcement.
The schedules of the three airlines operated yesterday were spaced. According to investigation, the NCAA insisted on staggered departure times to enable them monitor the observance of every procedure by the airlines and avoid overcrowding the terminals.
Directors of Operations and Security Services, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Captain Muktar Muye and Group Captain Sadiq Usman (rtd), who also monitored the first flight out of Lagos said passenger turnout was good being the first time of restart of operations after over three months of shutdown.
They also applauded passengers compliance with the protocols put in place in the terminal.
Director, Airspace and Aerodromes Standards, NCAA, Engr. Tayib Odunowo who flew on the Arik first flight commended the procedures and expressed joy that the hardwork put in to achieve the restart of domestic flights has paid off.
Passengers on their part said they were surprised to see the efforts put in place to ensure their safety, adding that this had shown that Covid-19 is real.
Meanwhile, security was tightened yesterday while all safety procedures were maintained at the general aviation terminal of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja as fight operations commenced.
Several measures have been put in place by the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to ensure that only those expected at the airport were there.
Social distancing was maintained while airport protocol personnel were barred from entering the terminal building as only travelers were allowed with facemasks and after screening.
At the domestic car park, structures have been demolished while proper markings have been effected for cars slots.