The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has started the process of certifying Nigeria’s airports after the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has carried out an assessment of airport facilities and given the country pass mark.
When certified the airports would be recognised worldwide as meeting all safety and security standards and it would receive international recognition and approval for any kind of aircraft to fly and land at the airports. Only very few countries in Africa have received this certification.
The certification would further boost the image of Nigeria in the comity of nations as a country with very high safety standards.
To achieve this, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has raised teams from Lagos and Abuja, representing the two airports there to work with the officials of NCAA and examine the manuals to close the necessary gaps in order to meet given standards for the certification.
THISDAY learnt that the first airports that would be certified are the four international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt. But inside FAAN sources said ICAO would want all the operational airports to be certified “because aircraft movement is not only limited to four airports, but the world body recognises that the certification would start with the four airports.”
A senior official in NCAA, who acknowledged the certification process, told THISDAY that the airports should have been certified about 10 years ago immediately after the ICAO safety assessment in 2006, which was the first time Nigeria passed the ICAO audit.
The certification had to be delayed because the country was unable to close the open items for the certification of the airports, which include airside safety and installation of landing aids like airfield lighting, proper marking of the runways and ramp and efficient security apparatus.
It was gathered that these conditions have been met by Nigeria in the recent audit but there were still open items that must be closed, which FAAN and NCAA are working on now.
“Certification is a continuous process. Even after the ICAO audit there were still some open items that we must have to close and certification is one of them and this should have been done since 10 years ago after the ICAO audit in 2006. All the airports ought to be certified. ICAO recommended that the international airports should be certified first and we are working on it,” he said.
The official also disclosed that it is not only Nigerian airports that are not certified, saying in Africa only four airports in the continent have been certified. According to him, the failure to meet given safety and security standards has left many airports uncertified by ICAO.
“The inability to get the airports certified is not peculiar to Nigeria. In fact, only four airports in Africa have been certified to have met ICAO given standards. So lack of certification is a global problem. Therefore, it is not something unusual that our airports have not been certified. We see how we can close the items,” the NCAA official said.