The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says helicopters are now free to fly in and out of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
Mr. Sirika made this known while fielding questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno, had on Monday announced the ban on helicopter services in Abuja.
The minister, however, said the office of the National Security Adviser has already modified its earlier directive banning the helicopters from the NAIA.
“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. Within his wisdom, he had earlier on sent out letters banning the helicopters’ operation into the airport,” Mr. Sirika said.
“But the National Security Adviser announced earlier this morning that helicopters will of course continue to fly to Abuja airport from wherever, then 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 in 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,” he said.
The minister further revealed that Nigeria would provide alternative flights to London and other European countries if the British Airways and other foreign airlines continue to reject Kaduna airport during the six weeks closure of NAIA.
According to him, Nigerian officials are still in talks with the foreign airlines, including British Airways to patronise Kaduna International airport.
The minister reassured that everything needed for safety and reliability in Kaduna airport had been provided, saying that “there is no need for any airline to refuse to do business in Kaduna”.
Mr. Sirika noted that the Ethiopian Airlines had agreed to fly into Kaduna airport and “is coming with its sophisticated aircraft to do business’’.
He announced that arrangements have reached advanced stage by a private airline to run Kaduna-London and other international routes every day, so as not to disrupt the businesses of those that had been flying the routes.