Earlier today, about 200 Americans were evacuated from Nigeria through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos with Delta Airlines. This bring the total evacuees in the last 10 days to 1,739.
It will be recalled that just yesterday, the American government through Ethiopian Airlines evacuated 385 of her citizens from Nigeria.
This is just as 1,739 foreigners have been evacuated from Nigeria through the MMIA in the past 10 days.
Regional Manager, South West Airport, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba, disclosed these to aviation journalists on Tuesday in her office at the Lagos airport.
Mrs Shin-Aba stated that since Air France began the evacuation exercise late March by airlifting some French nationals and Europeans, other airlines, including two Nigerian carriers have joined the process of airlifting foreign nationals out of the country.
As of the time of the publication, the statistics of foreigners airlifted from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport are: Air France-399; Lufthansa- 238; Air Peace- 93; Middle East Airline (MEA)- 140; Ethiopian Airlines- 148, 137 Canadians, 375 Americans; Jed Air- 9 (Liberians and crew), Air Peace; 87 and Delta-200 Americans.
She expressed that the evacuation exercise had been going on smoothly with little or no hitches at all and assured that FAAN in collaboration with other agencies would continue to carry out its duties with utmost caution and professionalism.
In her words, “So far, the activities have been okay and well-coordinated. Since the closure of the airport, we have had about 10 evacuations with different nationals. We have had from Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, Middle East Airline (MEA) with the Lebanese, Ethiopian Airlines has been on with Americans and Canadians. Then, we have domestic charter too. Also, Jed Air did Liberia, Air Peace airlifted Israelis. Today, we have Delta Airlines on ground that will take about 200 Americans.
“The conditions are that you have to get an approval from the Federal Ministry of Aviation, when the ministry gets the approval, it is sent to FAAN, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Then, we send the approval to all the security agencies, too. Most importantly, there is a procedure in place for the Covid-19 virus pandemic, which has to be followed.
“For instance, Port Health Service has to check everyone that is going out, at times, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will be on ground. Even, to access the terminal, there is a checking by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and others. It has been smooth sailing. Though, we had a cancellation some few days ago, but that was not due to anybody’s fault. It was due to logistics of the flight plan.
“Apart from today (Tuesday), we have had 1,539 evacuations through the Lagos Airport alone. Today, United States is having another 200, another batch of Americans will be airlifted tomorrow (Wednesday) and next week, we are having South African Airways and Air France too. They can come up with any plan in the cause of the week. That is why we are essential workers. We have to ensure that there is smooth running of operations. Nothing is compromised.”
Shin-Aba also said that as parts of efforts to ensure the essential workers are kept safe, the agency has adopted the necessary social distancing practice, metal detectors have been deployed for security checks as against the initial pant down, hand gloves and face masks are being used, while sanitizers are positioned in strategic places and open areas of the airport.
She also hinted that the revenue generations of FAAN has experienced a sharp decline as flights from the terminals have dropped drastically. She noted that the terminals now experience 10 flights in 10 days as compared to an average of 23-28 flights daily.