Nigerian airports will remain closed for 4 more weeks

Nigeria first closed its airspace to non-essential flights in March.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha [Twitter/@DigiCommsNG]

President Muhammadu Buhari had initially announced the closure of all airports to all international flights on March 21, 2020, and two different extensions have been announced since then.

While speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday, May 6, the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said the situation requires further extension.

"We have assessed the situation in the aviation industry and have come to the conclusion that given the facts available to us and based on the advice of experts, the ban on all flights will be extended for an additional four weeks," he said.

The ban on flights will not affect essential flights, including the repatriation of Nigerians from abroad which commenced on Wednesday.

During his own presentation, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the aviation sector is feeling the strain of the crisis.

He said the total loss of the sector since the shutdown of the Nigerian airspace is approximately N21 billion.

He said there are guidelines and safety issues being addressed to prepare the industry properly for whenever the airspace is open again for regular operations.

"We will not be able to just open up after closing for several weeks and months and start businesses as usual. There are safety issues," he lamented.

Sirika said the aviation sector is eager to resume operations quickly, and in a safe, secure, and efficient manner.

Nigeria has recorded 2,950 coronavirus cases in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as of May 5.

481 people have recovered and been discharged after medical treatment, but 98 people have died.

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