The federal government has reversed the ban on helicopters from flying over Abuja following the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA).
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, told State House Correspondents about the reversal after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, had last Monday poured cold water on the plans of private and commercial helicopter services operators to ferry passengers between Abuja and Kaduna, which is now the alternative airport to NAIA.
He had written to the operators, declaring 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 charter or commercial helicopter ferry flights are not allowed to fly within Abuja airspace.”
However, Sirika disclosed that the ban has been lifted but the exact location of landing pads for the helicopters is yet to be decided on and communicated to the operators.
According to him, “The National Security Adviser has the constitutional responsibility vested on him by Mr President to advise the President on national security matters.
“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 and the 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.