US team begins evaluating Abuja airport in Nigeria on safety and security

Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 14:47 by Aviation Correspondent

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has started security and safety assessment of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport located in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, as a part of the measures to enable airlines based in Nigeria to fly to the United States.

The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport – the main airport serving Nigeria’s capital city and named after Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first President – consists of an international terminal and a domestic terminal.
The United States insists that airports in Nigeria must pass the US Transportation Security Administration’s aviation security and regulator checks in order to confirm that the facilities at Nigerian airports comply with security standards before flights can take of from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to the United States.

A delegation from the US Transportation Security Administration, the agency that is responsible for security in all modes of transportation in the United States, met stakeholders of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in order to set up modalities for cooperation and improvement of security systems and quality of services at Nigeria’s airports.

Babatunde Omotoba, Aviation Minister of Nigeria, was quoted by the website as saying at a training workshop in Abuja that the purpose of the visit of the US Transportation Security Administration’s delegation was to assess the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at Abuja airport as well as train the personnel working with Nigeria’s aviation sector on the new trends and techniques in carrying out safety and security checks. This would, Omotoba added, lead to starting flights to and from the United States from airports in Nigeria.

The TSA team has successfully conducted similar evaluation at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, according to Omotoba.

The US delegation, he said, was also visiting the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Office in Lagos to carry out a management review of the airport’s work that was intended to fetch Category One aviation status for Nigeria.
American rules stipulate that an airline wanting to be designated to fly the United States must receive the economic authority from the US Department of Transportation as well as pass the Transportation Security Administration’s assessment test.
Nigerian media quoted Robin Sanders, the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, as saying that the US team visiting Nigeria was working closely with Nigeria’s federal government as also the country’s private sector in an effort to boost the country’s aviation security and also get it Category One status from the US federal aviation regulator.

Robin Sanders also said, according to reports, that she was impressed with the level of commitment that the Nigerian government had so far shown in upgrading facilities at the country’s airports.

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