An empty aircraft operated by KLM from Amsterdam landed at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos on Thursday to evacuate some Dutch and French nationals from Lagos, Nigeria to Paris, France.
It was learnt that the flight was duly approved by the Nigerian Government as it falls among the exemptions granted by the government in shutting down all the international airports.
The aircraft which came in via Cotonou landed around 2:05pm while the Dutch and French nationals numbering 260 went through the pre-boarding formalities before the aircraft took off at about 3:44pm, Nigerian time.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had listed the exemptions to include cargo flights, emergency services, safety-related operations.
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The Manager, MMIA, Mrs. Victoria Shinaba, said all permissions were sought and approved by the federal government.
She said the pilot and crew were not allowed to disembark adding that after facilitation, the nationals were escorted to the aircraft to board.
It was learnt that the General Manager, Air France/KLM, had made a request to the Minister of Aviation to operate essential flights on Air France/KLM from Lagos to Paris.
In a letter signed by the Director, Air Transport Management, M.S Naibi, on behalf of the Minister of Aviation, the airline was urged to operate strictly based on the protocol guiding this kind of operation under the COVID-19 as issued by the Nigerian Aeronautical Authorities.
The request by the airline is to commence the evacuation of Dutch and French nationals from 26th March, 2nd April and 9th April, 2020.
Shinaba confirmed that three flights would be operated on the said dates as approved by the Federal Government.
“We have one or two flights that will be coming in to pick their nationals, KLM is coming in today, there are three flights not only today; we have the approval, their crew are not even coming down, the crew will not come out at all.”