The Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, has challenged airline operators to devise other ways of achieving safety within the cabin rather than physical distancing.
Sirika who was speaking at an Aviation stakeholders’ webinar which focused on the status of the industry restart said that it is difficult to maintain social distancing in flights without a notable drop on the airlines’ revenue.
He stated this while responding to a question by the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, who wondered if social distancing would affect airfares.
Sirika, who answered in the affirmative, challenged stakeholders to come up with ingenious ways of achieving safety within the cabin rather than physical distancing.
“The person sitting beside or behind you is not two meters away from you. When people say they would block one seat between passengers, what of the guy behind you and the one in front of you? The guy in front of you is in danger; should you sneeze or cough, you are actually coughing over his head.
“It is very difficult to achieve because it means you have to take a sit on my left, right in front and behind to achieve at least 0.5 meters,” he said.
Sirika explained that achieving social distancing on flights would mean that airlines stick with 40 per cent of their carrying capacity.
“To achieve that you are saying 30 or 40 per cent capacity should be allowed. I think we should research more between today and over the weekend to come up with something that we can announce soon.
“I cannot see us achieving physical distancing within the airplane and make money,” he added.
In another development, still speaking on industry restart, Sirika announced that aides to Very Important Persons (VIPS) or politicians would be restricted from entering airports.
Sirika declared this during an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Aviation recently, said personalities including ministers, lawmaker coming to the airports “will not be carrying their aides into the airports any longer.”
He said the decision was part of measures put in place to ensure that safety measures are adhered to during operations.
“Top among such measures is the restriction of aides of VIPs or politicians into the airport.
“Those who have no business traveling would not also be allowed to enter the airports as domestic flight operations resumes.
“They will not enter the airport, not at all, so any body coming into the airport, this time around as a personality, a minister or even our honourable members, distinguished senators will not be carrying their aides into the airports any longer.
“We will provide for all their security and the VIP gets in and travels. So the VIPs should help us and take responsibility, and ensure that they don’t add to our problems in this Country,” he said.
He assured that the airports’ authorities are committed to ensuring the provision of necessary safety protocols of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
On airfare increase, the minister said although “price is not in my hand do not think that anything significant will happen to affect the propensity to fly.”
Photo: Aviation Minister, Sirika xxxxxxxxxx