June 10, 2017

FG Executive Order changing things at Lagos International Airports

By Lawani Mikairu

The Federal Government Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria issued recently by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has come into force at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and this has led to quicker and faster processing of passengers before boarding.

Vanguard visit to the departure hall of the airport revealed that the manual baggage checking counters of the foreign airlines operating at the airport have been removed and replaced with one harmonized screening machine at the airport departure hall. This has eased the long queues  at the check-in-counters of the airlines.

Before the new order, after the passengers and their luggage had passed through the screening machine at the entrance of the departure lounge, both the passengers and their luggage were subjected again to manual screening by the various security officials at the check-in counters of the airlines. In the course of doing this, long queues would be formed while Airport officials demand bribe from passengers.

Vanguard further observed that passengers now go through check-in counters with their luggage without any form of manual search by different security officials . One of the security officials, however, told Vanguard  that “passengers who are suspected to be with prohibitive items might be taken aside for a thorough search of their luggage by officials of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA and other relevant agencies with a scanning machine.”

The take off of this new Executive Order at the Lagos International Airport ran into a hitch on Tuesday when one of the foreign airlines, Delta Airline insisted on physical examination of passengers’ luggage before boarding contrary to the new order of harmonized screening at the airport departure hall.

Delta Airline again insisted on physical examination of luggage at their counter after the harmonized screening at the airport entry departure hall. The airline insisted on having the security personnel at their counter to supervise another round of luggage screening. This led to altercation between the airline officials and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, security officials, AVESEC, who told the airline that their action amounted to a violation of the new presidential Executive Order.

The airline officials then threatened not to board Nigeria passengers unless they are allowed to physically examine passengers luggage. According to the airline, “it is a directive from our home office and headquarters in Atlanta, USA.”

A statement from the airline later said : “Delta Air Line works closely with aviation authorities around the globe. Delta is actively working with both the authorities in Nigeria and the United States to understand the new Presidential directive and ensure we remain compliant with the respective authorities. Delta is subject to U.S. Government and Nigerian Government security regulations. The safety and security of Delta’s customers and crew is the airline’s number one priority.’’

There are suggestions that the new Executive Order at the airports may have to be fine tuned and aligned with the United States of America, USA, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy which stipulates “ that at least 25 per cent of passengers’ check-in luggage traveling to the US must be screened manually”. This is to ensure that passengers from Nigeria are not prevented from entering into USA.

Some of the Airlines flying to the United States from Nigeria include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa/KLM, Air France, South African Airways and Kenya Airways.