Abuja (Sundiata Post) — The Federal Government, on Wednesday, rescinded its decision to ban the use of commercial helicopters between Abuja and Kaduna State.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), who had, on Monday, issued the ban, said that helicopters will continue to fly to Abuja airport from anywhere in the country.
He, however, added that the procedure that they will use to approach the airport under landing spot will be advised accordingly before the end of day.
Monguno, in a memo, had said the Abuja airspace is controlled and only security flights or those with permission from the presidency would be allowed to use the airspace.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Heidi Sirika, told State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari that the ban has been reversed.
Commercial helicopter companies had offered to provide air transport between the two cities following the closure of the runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja for repairs.
“On the helicopter issue the National Security Adviser has the constitutional responsibility vested on him by his excellence Mr. President to advise the President on National security matters, within his wisdom he had earlier on sent out letters banning the helicopters 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.
“They have areas where there are no fly zones but the National Security Adviser this morning approved that helicopters should enter Abuja airport and out, but the procedures in which helicopters should enter into Abuja, and the spot, which the helicopters will land, will be advised in due course, and it shall be before the end of today,” Sirika said.
Speaking on the Kaduna operations in the last one week, Sirika said they were walking the talk, describing the operations as smooth commending Nigerians for their understanding.
“We thank God the operations in Kaduna is going on smooth, we are able to do what we said we would do, we are actually walking our talk. We thank Nigerians for understanding with us in this period of emergency. We have deployed enough personnel to handle and process passengers in Kaduna, of course the terminal building is finished and is being used for the last one week in Kaduna. I am sure also the complimentary buses and train that we have provided to ferry passengers from Kaduna to Abuja and vice versa are running on smoothly and of course we plead and thank Nigerians to bear with us within this six weeks. We have five more weeks to go and by the grace of God we shall achieve that and things will be normal so we appreciate your support and understanding in this regard,” Sirika said.
On foreign airlines refusing to land in Abuja, the minister said there are no plans to sanction foreign airlines that have refused to land in Kaduna, saying it was a commercial decision.
He, however, said negotiations were ongoing for a Nigerian airline to fly to London daily to bridge the gaps.
“That has been discussed earlier on International airlines at least Ethiopian airlines are coming with brand new airline, the dream liner, the newest baby in the world of aviation, the boeing 787 its fantastic they landed in Kaduna. The London-Kaduna they were processed without a hitch, and of course we are still talking to other airlines to see reason and begin to come because they see that its possible, doable, safe and secure, its in perfect condition and we are personally talking to other airlines within Nigeria to see the possibility of doing it, in an event where British airways may not come or Lufthansa. 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. Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) I was with British High Commissioner, I discussed with them for onward delivery to their own country, we are ready here we have the aircraft that we can deploy. 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,” he added.