FG reverses ban on helicopter shuttle from Abuja to Kaduna

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The Federal Government has rescinded its decision to ban the use of commercial helicopters between Abuja and Kaduna.

National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), who had, on Monday, issued the ban, yesterday, said helicopters will continue to fly to Abuja airport from anywhere in the country. He said the procedure 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.

Minister of State for Aviation, Heidi Sirika, told State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, yesterday, 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 (NSA) has the constitutional responsibility vested on him by Mr. President to advise him on national security matters; within his wisdom, he had earlier on sent out letters banning the helicopters operation into the airport, but the NSA had earlier, this morning (yesterday), said helicopters will continue to fly to Abuja airport from wherever.

“The procedure they will use to approach the airport, under landing spot, will be advised, accordingly, before the end of today (yesterday); which means 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,” Sirika said.

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Speaking on the Kaduna operations in the last one week, the minister said they were walking the talk. She described the operations as smooth and commended Nigerians for their understanding.

“We thank God the operations in Kaduna are 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. I am also sure the complimentary buses and train we have provided to ferry passengers from Kaduna to Abuja and vice versa are running on smoothly and, of course, we plead with 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 again. We appreciate your support and understanding in this regard.”

On foreign airlines refusing to land in Abuja, the minister said there were no plans to sanction airlines that have refused to land in Kaduna because it’s a commercial decision.

He, however, said negotiations were ongoing for a Nigerian airline to fly to London daily to bridge the gaps.

“I think within the next couple of days, we shall conclude and, if possible, we shall announce to Nigerians a 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 and we discussed onward delivery to their own country. The airline we can use to fly into London and back on daily basis is ready. We shall keep you posted within the next couple of days,” Sirika said.

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Source – The Sun

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