Posted by News Express | 9 February 2017 | 4,034 times
Two more international airlines are refusing to fly to an alternative hub when the only airport serving Nigeria’s capital shuts down, forcing travellers to make lengthy detours at extra cost.
Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja closes completely for runway repairs on March 8, 2017. Domestic and international flights will be diverted to Kaduna, 170 kilometres (105 miles) away.
There have been several reports that potholes have damaged aircraft, prompting one international carrier to cancel its flights on the route.
Nigeria’s aviation ministry has said the planned six weeks of resurfacing work were needed because the runway, which was built in 1982 with a 20-year lifespan, was “dilapidated” and “unsafe”
Just yesterday British Airways said it will not fly to Kaduna during the period of repair of the runway at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
BA country manager Kola Olayinka said its decision to suspend Abuja flights temporarily was in the interest of its customers.
“Many factors were considered before this decision was reached,” he said.
“Major ones are concerned about the safety and security of our passengers as well as difficulties around some key operational issues. We are currently evaluating all options for our customers planning to travel at that time and we will be reaching out directly to them for information about their trip.”
Olayinka, who commended the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, for the planned repair work added that there are no catering services as well as the adequate technology like the Common User Terminal Equipment, among others in Abuja.
Also yesterday, Air France announced that it would not be flying to Kaduna during the closure of Abuja.
As reported yesterday by News Express, Lufthansa, and South African Airways have all said they will not re-route their flights to Abuja from Frankfurt, Paris and Johannesburg, to Kaduna or elsewhere in Nigeria.
Stakeholders have advised that the Abuja airport runway be repaired at night but the Nigerian authorities refused.
Malte Liewerscheidt, senior Africa analyst with the Verisk Maplecroft global risk consultancy, said the closure of the capital’s airport was “highly symbolic”.
Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation — is in recession and desperate to turn around sky-high inflation and a weak currency that have deterred overseas investors.
“You have a government that doesn’t even keep the airport to its capital open. What does that say?” he told AFP.
“This raises a whole lot of questions for investors about the assets of the Nigerian government.”
•Additional reports by AFP and Daily Trust.
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