The federal government has evacuated 167 Nigerians from South Africa, who were en route to Nigeria yesterday. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffery Onyeama, in a series of tweet on his handle @GeoffreyOnyeama, said that the Nigerians have already departed the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
The evacuees, who are returning onboard Air Peace, are to first arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport before proceeding to Lagos, the tweet said. “Evacuation Update: @flyairpeace conveying 167 Nigerians just departed O.R. Tambo International Airport Johannesburg, South Africa for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. “45 passengers will disembark in Abuja, and thereafter the plane will leave for Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos with 122 passengers,” it said.
In another development, ahead of the planned resumption of flights in Nigeria, domestic airlines, Air Peace and Dana Air on Wednesday carried out dry run and shakedown flights. Spokesman of Air Peace, Stanley Olisa said in a statement that Air Peace deployed its 25 aircraft, including the Boeing 777s, flying from Lagos to Abuja, Port Harcourt and back to Lagos without passengers.
He said the flights were aimed at ensuring that the aircraft were in good condition, having been grounded for close to three months, although they had been under storage maintenance. Olisa said the flights were part of measures the airline had developed to guarantee the safety of both passengers and crew when operations resume.
He said the aircraft were brought out of storage and the pilots had been testing them, as all pilots and flight attendants had been retrained in line with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority directives.
The airline had been involved in charter and evacuation flights to international destinations based on approvals while the flight ban remained.
Speaking in the same vein, the Media and Communications Manager, of Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa explained that Dana Air had to carry out the exercise to demonstrate its readiness to resume flights as soon as the airspace is opened. “After a successful dry run, we conducted shakedown flights from Lagos to Port Harcourt with our newly acquired Boeing and MD aircraft in our fleet.”
He noted that ‘’uncertainty is a normal sentiment among travelers and we had to carry out the dry run and shakedown flights strictly to guarantee the safety of our staff and valued customers. For us, following guidelines and standards is priority and our customers can rest assured that as restrictions are lifted, all we will be offering our guests is peace of mind on every flight.”
On Dana Air’s level of preparedness, Ezenwa said ‘’Dana Air is 100 per cent ready so is MMA2 and some other terminals we operate from. All Personal Protective Equipment have been made available for all staff, crew and passengers who might not come around with their own masks.