Int’l air travel in distress, as SITA shut CUPP system over debt


  • Foreign carriers import check-in backup system
  • FAAN seeks travellers’ understanding



Foreign airlines operating out of the country are going through hectic time with passenger facilitation and quick departure of passengers following the coming to end of ten year contractual agreement between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Societe International Telecommunication Aeronautiques (SITA) for automation of the international airports in Nigeria which came to an end on May 2, 2021.

Consequently, sources told Aviation Metric that the carriers are going through their current predicament because of contractual obligation which FAAN has allegedly failed to honour, leaving SITA with no option than to shut the system.

“The Federal Government through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are owing SITA. SITA asked to be paid. The new company is not ready and they shut down the system. We had to get our system from Atlanta”, an airline staff stated.


FAAN MD, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu

The situation has thrown international air travel from the four major airports across Nigeria into chaos as FAAN is still at the teething stage of transiting from SITA to Arlington; the new firm awarded the deal.

The termination of SITA deal without adequate preparation for the deployment of quality and cost effective Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) system has thrown international airlines into serious difficult, forcing virtually all of the to bear the cost of supplying themselves with their own system that allow them to check in their passengers including tagging of baggage among other security identification.

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Many of the carriers like Delta Air imported its equipment including back-up systems in case anything goes wrong with what it is currently using at the Lagos airport for check-in of their passengers.

“For Delta Air for example, people who are going to destinations beyond in the US will only be able to land in Atlanta. The whole system is in a mess. We know that it is a temporary problem but let it be fixed quickly”, a source said.

An official of one of the foreign carriers who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said, “KLM, BA, Delta and others brought in their system. Kenya Airways had to buy its internet facility for check-in of passengers. We can’t do seat change because of the difficulty we are currently going through. We had to plead with passengers. We had a common user system; we won’t be having this type of problem. It is so frustrating”.

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Crowd waiting for facilitation at Lagos airport

The source equally disclosed that FAAN is owing SITA three months pay for the job provided which had not been paid for, further worsening the situation.

A top official of one of the European airlines confirmed the precarious situation of airlines at Lagos and other international airports like Abuja and Port-Harcourt.

According to the official, “Basically, it is affecting all the airlines. I think it is a case of termination of SITA’s agreement and they are changing over to the new company-Arlingnton. It is for the interim. We are used to a number of things happening in the country which are overlooked without contingency plans.

“When they want to start a new one, there will always be business overlap, that is why all the airlines are bringing up their continuity plan because we don’t want a situation whereby we are waiting and nothing happens where you can’t accept customers, you can’t check in, you practically can’t do anything. It is an interim arrangement”.

While Arlington Security Nigeria Services is still grappling with some issues, the inability to find a stop-gap for the process which was hitherto handled by SITA and which FAAN had allegedly urged airlines to partly fund has led to issues between the airlines and the airport authority.

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved N10 billion to Arlington Security Nigeria Services for the automation of five international airports. The airports are those in Lagos, Enugu, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.

The system would facilitate Common Use of Terminal Equipment (CUTE) system required for sharing airport resources in accordance with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Recommendation 1797.

Meanwhile, FAAN on Friday appealed to airlines and passengers for patience and understanding following what it called, “Temporary downtime in the check-in system of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.


Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

Spokeswoman for the agency, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu in a statement stated that the agency had already mobilized necessary resources to address the challenge, stressing that all hands are presently on deck to restore normalcy in passenger facilitation.

“To avoid flight delays, the authority would like to advise passengers to leave their homes early, so as to complete all check-in formalities in good time”, she added.

Wole Shadare