- FAAN, NAMA give assurances on readiness
AS the closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport (NAA), Abuja for a major rehabilitation work looms, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said that not all foreign airlines have declined to fly into Kaduna and that government is in talks with other foreign airlines to rescind their decisions.
This is just as Professor Osibanjo ordered the contractor handling the renovation work at Kaduna Airport to speed up work to beat the March 7, 2017 deadline.
The acting President gave this assurance and ultimatum while speaking to journalists shortly after a tour of the alternate airport to see things himself on Friday in view of the fact that Abuja Airport will be closed to traffic beginning from March 8, 2017.
According to him, government is talking with foreign airlines who have said they would not operate flight to Kaduna Airport, adding that he had met some of the international carriers who are willing to operate to Kaduna.
He said, “Well, one thing that is very clear is that it is not all foreign airlines that are declining to come, I have met some here today who are willing to come, I have just spoken to Ethiopian airline, they are willing to come. I think what we need to tell foreign airlines is that obviously, this is an emergency and a temporary arrangement and they should really work with us with that temporary arrangement and we are concerned about safety and comfort.”
Speaking further, Osinbajo said, ”They are here also to see for themselves, we will be happy if they work with us, we will be happy if they see it as a temporary and cope with some of the flight inconveniences here and there. And so we are persuading them to see it as a good temporary arrangement and some of them are quite happy.”
On the completion of the airport, he urged the contractor handling the Kaduna Airport project to deploy more hands to work on the facilities to meet the completion date
Osinbajo said, “We have already told them that they certainly need to speed up, as a matter of fact, they need to double the number of people who are working on the ceiling and other facilities, they certainly need to work much faster and much more diligently to deliver the job.”
On the state of preparedness of the Airport having seen the facilities first hand, the Acting President said, “Basically, what we are trying to look at the state of readiness and considering the fact that this is really a local airport, a lot of work need to be done to get to the kind of standard that is required.”
He continued, “Work has made considerable progress, but there is still quite a few things to be done but some of them will be completed this weekend, the ceiling and air conditioning and other facilities. But we think that it may not be in a complete state readiness by Wednesday but I expect that within the short period they have, it should have been a very beautiful and comfortable work.”
Also Speaking, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr. Saleh Dunoma , stated that everything the foreign airlines required to operate safe operations are on ground.
He stated that what the international airline should be worried about are the safety equipment and that Instrument Landing System (ILS) had been installed at the Kaduna Airport and that the runway is ok for flight operations.
Dunoma stated that foreign carrier had agreed to operate to the airport, saying that explains why they were on tour of facilities at the airport with the Acting President
He said, “We are ready to take foreign airlines, all the things that they need for international operations are on ground, what is important actually, is the safety equipment they need, the ILS has been installed, the runway is good, the terminal building will be ready in the next five days, the acting president has directed the contractors to complete some items before the commencement of international flights.”
“The foreign airlines have agreed, that is why they are here, they will be conducted round the facility. The contractors have been directed by the Acting President to complete in five days. I wouldn’t know which of the foreign airlines have finalized their decision to come but all of them are here today”, he said.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency(NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, while speaking after the inspection, said, “NAMA works to provide safety facilities because our work is Navigation, Surveillance and Communication, NAMA is very satisfied that it has done a good job. The glide scopes, the ILS are in place, we have the approach flight that actually complements the ILS. The mobile tower will moved from Abuja to this place on the night of March 7 once Abuja is closed. The NAMA engineers have been fantastic in installing many of these facilities.”
The Acting President was joined in the tour of facilities by, Governor of the State, Nasir El-Rufai, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji, Lai Muhammed and Managing Directors of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr. Saleh Dunoma, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA),Capt. Muhtar Usman and representatives of foreign airlines.