Airport closure: NAF increase air patrol on Kaduna-Abuja highway

Nigerian Air Force

Following the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has assured of increased security for travellers on the Kaduna-Abuja highway saying it is increasing its air surveillance and patrol in the axis.

The NAF also said following its four months of intense surveillance on the Kaduna rail line, incidences of kidnapping and cattle rustling have been substantially reduced assuring travellers of their safety.

Speaking at the Kaduna Air Force base after an extensive tour of the civil and military air bases, the NAF Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Abdullahi Iya said the Air Force has made extensive arrangements to accommodate both the civil and military air traffic during the closure of the Abuja airport.

AVM Iya who was in Kaduna with all the top specialist directors of the NAF on the orders of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said there was need to assess the operations of both the civil and the military air traffic after a few days of operation at the Kaduna international airport and to bridge the gaps where necessary.

Iya said: “Before the closure, we have been patrolling the Abuja-Kaduna rail line and we have substantially reduced the kidnapping and cattle rustling problems on Kaduna-Abuja highway from our constant patrol in coordination with the army, the patrol will continue it is just that now that there is increased traffic, we just want to make sure we cover everything so we won’t have issues during the closure of the Abuja airport.”

He said monitoring the work operations became necessary as the Abuja Air Force operations and the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) have been moved to Kaduna in order to avoid conflict with the civil aviation traffic.

Iya: “We are here to assess the general arrangement after the relocation to Kaduna, we have just finished inspecting the Kaduna civil airport, the helicopters are here they used to be based in Abuja, we have come to look at arrangements done now that they are here. The Presidential Air Fleet also relocated to this place, we want to re-assess the arrangements and security and then we will go back and brief the CAS.

“The Kaduna base is where we have our primary flight training school so we share the airspace with the civil so we need to properly coordinate with the civil traffic so there will be no conflict and there will be safe operations.”

While assuring that there will be no conflict between military and civilian airplanes, AVM Iya said the few gaps that have been noticed will quickly be closed.

“I think from what we have seen so far, no major problems, there are a few gaps which the specialist directors have seen and we will close the gap. We did detailed planning before we move, on the whole we are satisfied with what we have seen so far,” he said.

Later, two NAF Helicopters, Augusta and the Supa Puma embarked on a routine patrol of the Kaduna-Abuja highway and the rail line for about 30 minutes before returning to Kaduna, the exercise, according to the NAF would increase as Kaduna airport increases air traffic.

Meanwhile, air transport activities are also increasing at the Kaduna airport, officials of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Kaduna said the logistics are getting better by the day.

“We are improving, you just need to give us about one more week and everything will be perfect, there is increased traffic into this airport and some of the airlines are even saying they will stay in Kaduna after Abuja airport is reopened,” one of the officials said.