After over three months of shut down, domestic airlines on Saturday resumed operations at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport(SMICA), Owerri, Imo State.
The Nation correspondent, who monitored resumption of the airlines, observed that many passengers were boarding while social distancing and other precautionary measures were observed.
As at 8.00 am on Saturday, most of the passengers had arrived the airport and subjected themselves to the the various COVID-19 screening protocols before boarding the Air Peace flight scheduled to depart from Owerri to Abuja at 9.30am.
It was also observed that passengers were made to ensure alternate parking to maintain social distancing immediately they came into the car park.
From the car park, they joined the screening tent where their temperatures are checked with the use of infrared thermometer, from which point they match to the disinfectant mat, which helps to disinfect their shoes.
There was also hand washing centres automated with running water, soap and sanitisers while luggages were also disinfected in the process.
It was also observed that some taxis and stores within the airport opened for business.
At arrivals, passengers were also checked once they disembarked.
Also, passengers were not allowed to pick their luggages until at a designated point where, upon identification, a designated person picks and hands over the bags to their owners.
This, it was learnt, was to ensure that no one touches a luggage that does not belong to him.
Some of the passengers, who spoke to journalists, commended the measures put in place by the government at the airport to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Ahizechukwu Daniel, a former Magistrate in the Imo State judiciary, who was boarding to fly with Air Peace, commended the management of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on the preventive measures put in place.
He said: “I am highly impressed with the level of compliance and processes I am seeing here today.
“I commend FAAN for making lives more comfortable and sticking to the social distancing methodology and a lot of sanitization. Even the way the seats are arranged to comply with the protocols is another thing to commend them for.
“Somehow, COVID-19 has brought orderliness amongst Nigerians. That’s not to say we don’t want it to go. Everyone now cues on line and the usual shunting by passengers has stopped.”
Pastor Emeka Inyama, said that the handling of passengers was quite admirable.
He stated, however, that the only sour point was that the staff started two hours late, a development he said made many passengers to stay in their cars after arriving at the airport two to three hours before schedule time.
The airport manager, Rejoice Ndudinachi, expressed happiness that the airport was able to resume full operations.
“Though we have been operating essential flights. But, today, we had to start commercial flights. We’re fully thankful to my management, the state government and our managing director, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu for all the support to ensure we meet up with the resumption guidelines by NCAA. It wasn’t easy because we had to change all our formats and programmes to work into the COVID-19 protocols,” Ndudinachi said.
She said the management took measure minimize contacts, saying that the airport would not be expecting crowd at the counter.