COVID-19 in the country will resume on June 21.
A statement issued on Monday in Abuja by Mr James Odaudu, Director of Public Affairs in the ministry; quoted Sirika as saying this at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
According to Sirika, the resumption of flights will be based strictly on the implementation of the approved protocols.
These include protocols for safe operations of the airlines.
“The three-week period between now and the resumption date is to enable the operators adhere to all the necessary industry regulations; without which they cannot take to the skies after being dormant for some time.
“This is because aviation, unlike other sectors, is a highly regulated one,” he said.
The minister added that consultations had been on between the ministry and the industry’s stakeholders; on the best ways to operate profitably, while, at the same time, ensuring safety of travellers upon resumption.
Further, Sirika cautioned owners of private aircraft, who, he said; were in the habit of asking for permits to fly within the country despite the restrictions in place; to desist, as the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were still in place.
He noted that this directive excludes those on essential services, which had been clearly defined. He added that since approval for flights on essential services was not being paid for; it would take little or no time to grant it.
Meanwhile, Sirika warned against people allowing themselves to be scammed by those outside the approving authorities. He pointed out that the sector, under his watch; had zero tolerance for corrupt practices since his assumption of office as minister.
Additionally, the Minister expressed gratitude to the stakeholders in the aviation sector for their cooperation; in spite of their unquantifiable losses, occasioned by the lockdown since March.
He assured that everything humanly possible would be done to ensure speedy recovery of the sector.