By Abdulaziz Sani
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno, has banned a planned helicopter shuttle service from Kaduna to Abuja, following the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
A helicopter shuttle service company, Maple Aviation Logistics Limited, had in the past few weeks advertised its offers to pick passengers at the Kaduna International Airport and drop them off at the National Stadium trip in its AgustaWestland AW139 and Sikorsky 92 helicopters at the cost of N49,999.
But a letter titled “Restriction of Helicopter Ferry Flights Over Abuja Metropolis” and labelled “confidential” by the Office of the NSA said “air travellers will be required to travel by road/train to Abuja”.
The letter dated March 6 and seen by DAILY NIGERIAN, read in part: “In view of the closure of the airport, air travellers will be required to travel by road/train to Abuja from Kaduna International Airport. This will undoubtedly cause constraints on the movement of some passengers who will aim to travel using other means, notably the use of commercial ferry helicopters.
“Please be reminded that the airspace over the Federal Capital Territory Abuja is controlled and only security flights or those with the requisite security clearance from the Presidency are granted overhead clearance for obvious security reasons. Consequently, you are to note and ensure that no charter or commercial helicopter ferry flights are allowed to fly within Abuja airspace.”
On March 9, international and local flights to Abuja were diverted to Kaduna, which is a two-hour journey back to the capital city by road.
In view of the diversion of the air traffic, Nigerian government reportedly tightened security on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway, notorious for kidnapping and armed robbery.