By Louis Ibah

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says plans have reached an advanced stage to get the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport scale through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety and security certification.

No airport in Nigeria operates with an ICAO certification, a trend that has been a source of concern to a lot of stakeholders.

Director General/CEO of the NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, in an interview with journalists recently, however, said the regulatory agency was working very closely with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to get the Lagos and Abuja airports duly certified.

He, however, explained that it is a team from the NCAA that would handle the certification process while ICAO would only send a team to come in to validate what the NCAA had done.

“ICAO is more concerned about airports that are being used or designated as international airports and we have been working with the two operators or service providers, FAAN and NAMA, to ensure that all that needs to be put in place for the certification of Lagos and Abuja airports have been put in place,” said Usman.

Speaking on the role of ICAO in the certification of airports, Usman said, “the operators (FAAN and NAMA) are to apply and also provide all the documentation and infrastructure, and personnel necessary to meet the requirement of certification. The NCAA is to check and ensure that all provisions made by airport operators and the personnel will meet and continue to meet international standards set by ICAO. And thereafter, ICAO too will validate whatever certification we have done. We will inform them that we have certified the airports.

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So, ICAO will come for on-site validation,” he added.

Usman said the process of certifying the Lagos airport had advanced into the last stage and that very soon the airport would be operating under an ICAO certification.

“I believe within a very short time, based on what we have in place now, Lagos will be certified. The certification process is in five stages and the Lagos airport is at about the fourth stage. The fifth stage is just the signing of the certificate,” Usman said.

“So, we can say it is almost at the point of certification. Once Lagos is finished, we will concentrate more on Abuja. Currently, we have five international airports, where we operate regular international flights. We started with Lagos and we hope Lagos will be finished in a very short time. Abuja also, we’re on course.

“Whatever lessons we learn in the certification of Lagos will be applied in the certification of Abuja. And whatever we learn in the process of certifying Lagos and Abuja will be applied towards certifying Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports.

“And subsequently, we intend to go beyond the international airports. It is based on safety that you certify an airport and it is required by ICAO to give the required confidence to international airline operators coming in that standards have been met,” he added.

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