FOUR domestic airlines Arik Air, Azman Air and Dana Air and Max Air have joined airlines like Aero; Air Peace to suspend their operations grinding the aviation sub-sector to a halt after airlines like Ibom Air reduced their capacity yesterday.
Recall that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in a statement yesterday notified the general public that although all international flight operations have been suspended, passengers can still travel within Nigeria unhindered.
However, with this move by the airlines grounding their operations, domestic operations have shut down automatically with only few flights trying to complete their obligations despite operating ghost flights.
Arik Air in a statement this evening announced it is temporarily suspending all scheduled commercial flight operations effective 23:00hrs on Friday, March 27, 2020 a decision borne to mitigate the risk of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to its valued customers and staff, and hopes to resume services as soon as feasible.
The airline stated that customers who have confirmed tickets can still use their tickets when the airline resumes flight operations as such tickets could also be modified at no extra charge.
The Chief Executive Officer of Arik Air, Captain Roy Ilegbodu stressed: “The safety and well-being of our valued customers is paramount at this period of health emergency. We implore everyone to keep safe and abide by all directives issued by governmental authorities.”
“We sincerely regret any inconvenience this suspension may have caused our customers.”
Captain Ilegbodu added that Arik Air would be available to support government emergency, humanitarian and charter flight requests during the period of suspension of air transport operation.
Azman Air in a statement making rounds across its media channels also said it was suspending flights on the midnight of the 27th March, which is Friday.
The airlines statement read,” The Management of Azman Air regrets to inform our esteemed customers and the general public that all our flight operations will be suspended for the period of two (2) weeks starting from midnight of Friday 27th March, 2020 to 11th April, 2020.
“This consensus was reached after a detailed consultation with stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation industry and in a bid to support the Federal Government efforts in curtailing the spread of the corona virus and to ensure its eventual eradication.”
The airline regretted inconveniences but stated that the decision was taken in the overall national interest.
Dana Air may be halting operations from the midnight of 25th March (today), for the period of two weeks.
According to inside sources the airline made the move in line with the precautionary measures by the Lagos State and Federal Government to stem the spread of the COVID-19 Virus, and give Nigeria a fighting chance to turn the curve.
A confirmatory statement read: “In response to the recent developments on Covid-19, and the need to support the efforts of the government to stem the further spread of the Covid-19 in our dear country, we have decided to suspend our flight operations for the next 14 days effective midnight 25th March 2020.
“Recently, there has been a huge decline in the passenger figures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and considering the need to avoid piling unnecessary costs at this difficult time, we had to take this huge decision in the interest of the industry, staff , customers and our nation. “
“While we apologise and regret any inconvenience this decision may cause customers on affected flights, we wish to reassure our guests that we will be available on all our channels to ensure seamless updates and communication.”
Max Air in a letter titled Suspension of Operation, gave the same reason but stated that their suspension will commence from March 28, 2020 (Saturday).
The letter signed by the Station Manager, Bello Ramalan read,” Due to the global pandemic COVID-19 also known as coronavirus currently affecting the country, I am directed to inform you that Max Air has suspended its operation from 28th of March 2020 to 11th of April 2020. We look forward to inform you the next action taken.”