Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika has said that going forward, air passengers not wearing face masks will be considered unruly and ejected from flights.

The minister further disclosed that the last row of seats on aircrafts will be reserved for isolation of persons suspected to have the coronavirus infection.

Sirika spoke at Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 while giving an update on new airport procedures as domestic airlines commence operations on Wednesday.

The minister said that there would be mandatory temperature and symptoms checks, and a requirement that face masks must be worn at all times, both inside airport and aeroplanes.

Other measures include hand washing, sanitizing and physical distancing.

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The Aviation Minister explained the cabin air is safer than most other environments, adding that the processes of compression, heating, cooling, and filtration that aircraft cabin air is subjected to take out 99.99 per cent of all harmful organisms including viruses.

‘The inside of an airplane cabin is one of the most hygienic environments in the world because of the high efficiency of the filtration and purification processes and systems for the circulating air.’

Speaking on the resumption of flights, the minister said: ‘Domestic flight operations will commence on Wednesday July 8, 2020. Logos and Abuja and Kano airports have passed all tests. But Wednesday resumption is only for Lagos and Abuja. Kano, PH, Owerri, Maiduguri scheduled to reopen July 11.’

He said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the ban of aides of ministers, military, National Assembly members, governors, judiciary at the airport, with exemptions for people with disabilities who will be assisted at the airport by the ground staff of the airline as well as those with diplomatic immunity.

‘Everyone who has seen me travel knows that I don’t travel with aides/assistants. I travel alone, I carry my bags by myself. I’m leading by example, so I expect all VIPs to comply with the new directive that no non-travelling aides will be permitted in terminals,’ the minister stated.