Thursday, December 31, 2009

Air travel has transformed the world over the last few decades. The ability to be get from continent to continent in a matter of hours has meant an increase in transatlantic commerce, tourism and much more. Despite the access that air travel has created, travel to the African continent has always been much more difficult than travel to other regions. Flights to African airports continue to be expensive, cumbersome (due to a lack of direct flights) and sometimes, dangerous as evidenced by the recent near crashes at Lagos' Murtala Mohammed Airport when new radar equipment shut down unexpectedly. Furthermore, African travelers typically complain of bad customer service, older airplanes, and outright disrespect as was the case with the 2008 Brutish Airways incident when 130 Nigerians were unceremoniously thrown off a flight at Heathrow Airport. But, now, with the recent revelations that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (now deemed the 'Nigerian Terrorist') attempted to blow up a plane, it is likely that travel to and from the continent could get more complicated.

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Direct flights to African airports are often hard to find, so when in June 2009, the United States decided on whether direct flights would be possible from certain African destinations, there were strong reactions. These flight routes were significant because they would ease the access of expatriates, tourists, and business people to specific regions of the continent. Kenyans, in particular, were expecting a new flight route from Atlanta, GA to Kenya's capital, Nairobi, a first between both countries in over 10 years. Kenyan officials planned to welcome the flight and the Minister of Transport bought a ticket on the sold out Delta Airlines flight just to commemorate the event. Not too long before takeoff, however, the U.S. government indefinitely suspended the Atlanta-Nairobi route, citing safety concerns. Kenyans, and others depending on the accessibility of that flight route, were left disappointed. Liberians were equally disappointed when the US government refused to permit direct flights to that West African nation's capital, Monrovia.

Unlike Kenya, Delta Airlines received permission to fly directly to Abuja, Nigeria, thus expanding its reach in the country and region, in general. Nigeria's airports had to satisfy strict inspections and requirements and , were deemed safe. In fact, on December 2nd, 2009, Nigeria's national carrier, Nigeria Eagle, entered into a contract with Delta Airline to expand benefits to customers. The contract has a potential to increase business ties between both airlines.

However, given the recent incident with Abdulmutallab, one can only assume that travel to and from the African continent might become more cumbersome. It can be expected that the introduction of additional flight routes to the continent from the U.S. will be harder to come by, a reality that will affect millions. Travelers going to and leaving from certain African airports will likely be required to endure longer searches and security checks. Not to mention that the already difficult process of acquiring travel visas will become even more problematic for many. Nonetheless, one good thing that has already come out of this situation is that Nigeria announced it will implement full body scanners at airports. When challenged as to whether that announcement was a "vague promise", Harold Demuren of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, reacted forcefully, defending the Nigerian government's intentions to ensure that no terrorists could pass through a Nigerian airport ever again. It is quite possible that other African countries will equally invest in such technology, but most importantly, the focus on the need for better airport security is crucial, particularly in Nigeria which suffers from power outages even at airports.

One can only hope that this push for better airport security will have exponential benefits and in time will result in less difficult air travel to and from the African continent.The reality of Nigeria's economic importance will require that there be some level of accessibility and the growing number of African expatriates across the world will likely guarantee that travel increases, not diminishes between African airports and various international destinations. The only question remaining is how long will it take for the heightened security alerts to calm down. Unfortunately, the answer to that question depends on too many unknowns, but it will reveal itself eventually.

From The Archives:
- A Nigerian Terrorist & A People's Passivity
- Electricity Problems At Nigerian Airport
- N4.6BN For Electricity At Nigerian Airport
- How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot With Al Qaeda
- 'Is Nigeria A Breeding Ground For Terrorism'(May 2007).

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Beauty said...

"The reality of Nigeria's economic importance will require that there be some level of accessibility and the growing number of African expatriates across the world will likely guarantee that travel increases". Is that what we really need? Who are the travelers anyway? On the one hand, a confrontation in Copenhagen at the climate change conference led by Nigeria and others, said that rich countries were trying to collapse the Kyoto protocol and "Africa is on death row" due to global warming. Rich from Nigeria that flares the second largest volume of gas of any producer, behind Russia. Yet we want more air travel.

Our home grown bomber has opened up more debates but "vague promises" to implement full body scanners at airports in our country that suffers from power outages even at airports should be taken with a pinch of salt. Again, the good news is the debate. Lets talk some more and out of those talks will come doable agreements. The end game perhaps is to go get it done. Enough of empty promises. Just do it! said...

This was a perfect opportuinity for these idiotic leaders to rebrand Nigeria, and yet again they dropped the ball and kept everything within their local Nigeria confines of being “local champions” for something that has such a huge international magnitude with damaging repercussions to all Nigerians! I wonder what the Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Madueke is doing...couldn't he come in front of the world news media and lay out all the facts on what the Nigeria Airport Authority and the father did and do damage control?...I guess not, but he was busy negotiating for an increase in travel allowance after having expended 2.7 billion Naira for his supposedly international travel just in 2009 for practically doing NOTHING. According to Madueke claims :“Diplomacy is all about visibility; even technology has not helped in reducing international travels in diplomacy…”
The audacity of this dufus Foreign Minister Madueke to claim that diplomacy is all about visibility; yet he couldn’t show up in any of the world news media to defend Nigeria at this critical time, but could engage in undertaking frivolous and bogus trips for the purpose of cashing estacodes worth more than N2.7 billion for international travels alone, and even worth more than the whole budget of the Ministry of Commerce - N2 billion and that of the Ministry of Police Affairs - N1 billion, is downright galling and despicable!!!

The aftermath of this AbdulMutallab disastrous incidence would have far-reaching consequences beyond air travel…and may even include visas denial & restrictions, coupled with more sordid treatment being meted out to Nigerians in all international airports…But for the Maduekes and his ruling ilks….they don’t care about Nigerians; they are more interested in what they can steal for themselves and their family and breed more Umar Farouk to tarnish Nigeria's image...Ofcourse what would one expect from a supposedly “giant of Africa”; when you have a sitting president Yardua lying comatose in a foreign hospital, refusing to resign or temporarily transfer power to his surbodinate…Nigerians will practical end up with a country that’s lacking leadership all on fronts!

Senate slams Maduekwe over N2.7bn travel expenses:

webround said...

as with most good things, if not handled properly, they cause problems. yes, full body scanners will be implemented in Europe and more of American airports but at the same time, they are including technology to address the issues of privacy - such as blurring passenger's face and the body image, ensuring that the peeople viewing the scans are in a different room from the passengers being scanned and so can not recognize the passengers, and also not storing the images.

Nigeria has said they will implement full body scanners but nothing has been said about how they will make sure that some lascivious people do not spend time oodling over 'practically naked' pictures of folks or using those pictures for other nefarious activities.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I feel a bit sorry for the Kenyans, I bet now they are cursing under their breaths or even aloud, on "Nigerians" have ruined it for them. But oh well. Don't know what to clearly say, but I know that Nigeria should have had more scanners. Matter of fact, I believe they do! This summer I went through the process of them checking my bags, and then me going through the whole process of being scanned. I wonder how that man could have gotten away with it.

Anonymous said...

hmmm... D truth is nigeria should not b seen as a terrorist state... Farouk didnt become a terrorist when he lived in nigera.he was prolytesized when he travelled abroad! These terrorist groups also work with scientist n weapon experts who are not altogether arabs and yet they do not call the countries of these non-arab terrorist allies 'terrorist states'

- Wellsbaba (from Facebook)

Anonymous said...

@Wellsbaba...thank you very much! I've been trying to get people to understand that.

- S.A. (from Facebook)

Beauty said...

Harold Demuren, are or anyone else aware that The U.S. gave Nigeria four full-body scanners for its international airports in 2008?

Ayodeji said...

This is the danger of a single story - Nigeria is no evil state. Based on an American action movie, we can't say Americans are violent.

[G@ttoGiallo] said...

Eventually, Umar Faruk is responsible of a budget embezzlement from generators to scanners - shame on him.
Best wishes for a better tomorrow to all NC's followers !

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know where to start but i do believe that there is plenty of blame to go around ,unfortunately that would not solve the crisis going on in Nigeria or that of the u.s, i pray that Nigerians someday will rise(revolt of some sort) and claim back her destiny and respect in the world.

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