International air travel in Nigeria is experiencing glitches following a system breakdown at major international airports, Daily Trust can report.
The development followed the expiration of the contract of Societe International Telecommunication Aeronautiques (SITA), which has been handling the Common Use of Terminal Equipment (CUTE) system at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
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Daily Trust reports that FAAN had already engaged the services of Arlington Securitas Nigeria Limited to handle the CUTE system amidst misgivings from some stakeholders who queried the competencies of the new company and the process of selecting it.
CUTE is an IT solution that enables multiple airlines to use existing airport infrastructures to control passenger and flight processing in line with IATA Recommendation 1797.
After 10 years of running the system, it was learnt that SITA has deactivated its service following the contract expiration leading to the present disruption in facilitation of international flights.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in March 2021 approved a N10.5bn Airport Management Solution (automation) contract to Arlington Security Nigeria Limited for four airports.
But the switchover to the Arlington System is said to be responsible for the present glitches as there was no back-up plan while officials had to resort to manual check-in which slows down the process and causes flight delays.
FAAN had in a March 2021 letter signed by General Manager, ICT, FAAN, Charles Nwachi to all airline station managers in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port-Harcourt, titled, “Smart App Project Implementation in Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja” asked airlines to join the smart app project implementation facilitated by Arlington.
“We wish to bring to your notice that with effect from May 1, 2021, the current common use passenger processing system being managed by SITA at the Abuja and Lagos airport shall cease to be operational.
“It is therefore imperative that all international airlines integrate with the Arlington/ICT SmartApp solution immediately as agreed in our last meeting of December 11, 2020 with FAAN top management in order to avoid service disruption”, the letter dated March 30 stated.
But it was learnt that most airlines are yet to join the new system thus causing the present operational challenge at the airports.
The MMIA in Lagos, the busiest airport in the country, for instance, has been witnessing unprecedented crowds in the terminal hall following the delay in facilitation of passengers.
It was gathered that many airlines like Delta, British Airways, KLM, among others, had to resort to using their respective internet facilities.
The FAAN had on Friday appealed to passengers for understanding, saying it had already mobilized the necessary resources to address the challenge and restore normalcy to passenger facilitation.
Spokesperson of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, also advised passengers to get to the airports early enough to go through the facilitation process to avoid flight delay.
Spokesperson of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, told Daily Trust yesterday that the authority was managing the situation.
“We are currently working on a solution to see how the situation can be normalised,” she said.