Posted by News Express | 5 December 2013 | 4,212 times
Thousands of passengers have been left stranded across the country following the disruption of flights occasioned by the closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
A report to this effect in the Lagos-based P.M. NEWS attributed the shutting of the airport to the blocking of the runway since yesterday by a cargo plane belonging to Saudi Airlines which was involved in an accident while landing.
“Though local flights are taking off from the Airport, authorities have barred international flights and flights from other local airports from flying into Abuja, in what Yakubu Dati, spokesperson for Federal Airport Authority, FAAN said is a precautionary measure by authorities to ensure safety of the flying public,” P.M. NEWS reported this afternoon.
The paper said it learnt that following the incident, the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) issued a Notice To Airmen this morning indicating that the airport had been closed to both incoming and outbound planes.
“Thousands of passengers coming to Abuja are stranded at different airports in the country as flights to Abuja are not being allowed to take off,” according to P.M. NEWS, which said the situation has led to rowdy scenes among stranded passengers in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Kano, among others.
International flights meant for Abuja are being diverted to Lagos.
“What we are trying to do now to ensure safety which is paramount in all we do is that we have suspended all flights coming to Abuja until we evacuate the aircraft,” Dati said while confirming the incident.
“Even as at yesterday, flights are still coming to Abuja, but we just have to be extra careful before we allow flights to continue,” he added
Dati also said officials of Accident Investigation Bureau are already investing the incident, while officials of FAAN and NAMA are coordinating the evacuation of the aircraft.
He added that the aircraft will be evacuated within few hours so that flight into Abuja can continue.
The problem started around 10pm yesterday when a Saudi Arabian cargo plane over-ran the runway in Abuja and ran into a maintenance area of the airport as it was landing. The Boeing 747 cargo aircraft was also reported to have burst into flames but fire was promptly put out at the airport.
“A Saudi Arabian B747 cargo aircraft landed safely in Abuja this night but finished the maneuvering area of the runway and ran into a maintenance area of the runway and stopped. There are no casualties. Plans are on to move the air craft after the AIB’s visit soon,” Joe Obi, the spokesperson of Nigeria’s ministry of aviation said while confirming the incident.
He however added that the plane landed safely.
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