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Relief as Lagos, Abuja airports activate N10b facilitation equipment

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Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. PHOTO: NAN

About four months after its sudden shutdown and chaotic facilitation process at international airports, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has activated a new Common Use Passenger Processing System (CUPPS) in Lagos and Abuja airports.

The new technology, which is an advanced version of the old equipment, has brought airlines a sigh of relief.

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The Guardian learned that about seven foreign carriers have already logged on to the system to facilitate passengers and baggage services.

Societe International Telecommunication Aeronautiques’ (SITA) abrupt withdrawal of facilitation services caused a downtime of automated check-in systems at Lagos and Abuja airports beginning from June.

The disruption rendered international passenger facilitation chaotic and outbound flights delayed as some foreign airlines issued handwritten boarding passes.

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It was learned that though SITA’s contract expired in May 2021, its operations were extended for another six months pending the switchover to another service provider that bid and won the contract. SITA, however, shut down operations at the beginning of June over FAAN’s alleged indebtedness.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) earlier approved N10 billion to Arlington Security Nigeria Services for the automation of Common User Terminal Equipment (CUTE) in five international airports –Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano.

The new installation, CUPPS, is an IT solution that enables multiple airlines, service companies, and other users to use a uniform electronic interface for sharing physical check-in.

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Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, said the new technology and other facilities would be deployed in the five international airports, in addition to self-service kiosks, departure control and baggage reconciliation systems, and Flight Information Display System.

“We went for an upgrade – the Common User Passengers Processing system (CUPPS). This is the new technology since 2009 and now, 11 years later, Nigeria is using the CUPPS system.”

Yadudu explained that the old passenger facilitation system collapsed a few months ago when the contractor unceremoniously backed out. Many foreign airlines have had to rely on their own system to relieve passengers of the stress of waiting long hours in queues as a result of the disruptions.

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He pledged that FAAN would continue to provide the best service to its clients, stressing that the contract with RESA was an extended agreement.

Besides, he admitted that the outbreak of the pandemic led to about five months delay in payments to SITA, but assured that all outstanding payments would be settled.

FAAN Manager of South West Airports, Victoria Shin-Aba, said the “bad experience passengers” had a few months ago would soon be a thing of the past, as some foreign airlines have already been integrated into the new system.

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Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, said progress has been recorded, after inspecting the new technology being installed.

During the unveiling of the FAAN service charter in Lagos, National Coordinator, SERVICOM at the Presidency, Nnenna Akajemeli, explained that airport business management is international. Hence, there are standards that must be met.

On the management of queues at airports, General Manager, Customer Service FAAN, Dr. Ebele Okoye, said the self-service kiosks would cut down the number of queues and time limit.

Within the next few days, all foreign airlines are expected to be integrated into the check-in system for seamless facilitation of passengers.

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