Nigeria’s domestic airlines have announced a suspension of operations until further notice, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation.

Nigeria currently has 51 confirmed COVID-19 cases spread across 9 of its 36 states. Two have recovered and one has died.

Air Peace, Arik Air, Dana Air, Azman and Max Air have said they will be suspending all their domestic flight services, Punch reports.

While Air Peace, Arik Air and Azman’s suspension will become effective from midnight of Friday, March 27, Max Air’s suspension will begin on Saturday, March 28.

Dana said its service would be suspended from midnight of Wednesday March 25.

Media and Communications Manager of Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, said the airline’s suspension would be for two weeks.

The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Mrs Toyin Olajide, said the airline’s flight operations would be suspended for 23 days.

She said, “This difficult decision was reached in order to, not only, support the efforts of the federal government and other stakeholders in curbing the spread of this virus in our nation but also to protect our teeming passengers and our staff from becoming victims of the pandemic.

“Continuation of flight operations in the present circumstances we find ourselves as airlines could lead to the total collapse of any airline hence the need to quickly stem the rising financial burden and cost of operations.”

Dana Air
Dana Air

Olajide said normal scheduled flight operations would resume on April 20, adding that the airline would be willing to operate special flights both for the government and the people.

The Chief Executive Officer of Arik Air, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, said the airline would also be available to support government emergency, humanitarian and charter flight requests during the period of suspension of air transport operation.

Aero Contractors announced on Tuesday that its flight services would be suspended from the midnight of Thursday.

Nigeria has also shut down its international airports and placed 15 high risk countries on a travel ban list.