Wednesday, 15 March 2017
FG LIFTS BAN on Commercial Helicopters' Abuja-Kaduna shuttle. cc @DrJoeAbah
The Federal Government has rescinded its decision to ban commercial helicopters shuttling between Abuja and Kaduna.
Babagana Monguno, national security adviser (NSA), had directed regulatory agencies not to allow commercial helicopters make use of Abuja airspace.
Citing security reasons, Monguno had said only flights with permission from the presidency should be allowed to use the airspace.
He said all the passengers making use of the Kaduna international airport as a result of the repairs of the runway of Abuja airport, should travel either by road or rail.
But on Wednesday, Haidi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, announced that the ban had been lifted and that the procedure for using the airspace will be released before the end of day.
Sirika disclosed this to state house correspondents at the end of the federal executive council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“On the helicopter issue, the national security adviser has the constitutional responsibility vested on him by Mr President to advise the president on national security matters,” he said.
“Within his wisdom, he sent out letters banning the helicopter's operation into the airport but the national security adviser had earlier this morning said that helicopters will, of course, continue to fly to Abuja airport from wherever.
“The procedure that they will use to approach the airport under landing spot will be advised accordingly before the end of today, which means that helicopters can come into Abuja and out bearing in mind that within the metropolitan city of Abuja, there are no fly zones, and this is very normal in every country.
He thanked Nigerians for cooperating with the government by using the Kaduna airport.
Sirika said one week is out of the six weeks period for the closure, expressing optimism that a lot would have been achieved when the Abuja airport return to normal operations.
He said negotiations were ongoing for a Nigerian airline to fly to London daily in order to make up for the airlines that have rejected Kaduna.
Sirika said he met with the British ambassador to Nigeria on this issue.
He added that government was still trying to convince the foreign airlines that turned down Kaduna, appealing to them to take a cue from Ethiopian Airlines.
“On international airlines, at least Ethiopian Airlines is coming with its brand new aircraft, the dream liner which is the newest baby in the world of aviation, the Boeing 787. It’s fantastic that they landed in Kaduna,” he said.
“The London-Kaduna route was processed without a hitch, and of course we are still talking to other airlines to see reason and begin to come because that is possible.
“We are also talking to other airlines within Nigeria to see the possibility of going to London in the event where British Airways or Lufthansa may not come.
“We are into negotiations that will be able to fly into London and Kaduna daily just like the British Airways was doing in Abuja.
“I think within the next couple of days we shall conclude and if it is possible we shall announce to Nigerians that there will be flight from Kaduna to London and back. We will be using the advantage of the gap created by British Airways out of Abuja, that is going on. The airline that we can use to go into London and back on daily basis is ready, we shall keep you posted within the next couple of days.”