THE new Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) may come on stream in the next two months according to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which has attributed the delay in commissioning and putting to use, the new Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) to the late takeoff of the terminal construction.
Both terminals are part of the US$ 600 million Chinese and Nigerian counter funded terminal of which two: Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja have been delivered.
General Manager, Corporate Affairs FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu who explained the status of the remaining terminals in an interview with aviation journalists said the delay in the new MMIA was due to the issue of citing the terminal location among other factors
Mrs. Yakubu explained, “Lagos airport did not take off early because of the issue of citing of the new terminal. Where we have it now, is not the original site, it has come up with a lot of issues – connectivity to the airside and the runway and others, but we are assuring our passengers that once Kano is commissioned, the next airport would be Lagos.”
Meanwhile, she revealed that Air Peace, Turkish Airlines and Emirates have indicated their readiness to commence scheduled flight operations from new Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja respectively from April and June as part of plans to decongest Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
In that vein, Emirates would increase its four weekly flights to daily to Dubai Airport from NAIA from June 1 while Turkish Airlines would commence direct flight from its base to PHIA from June 25 and Nigerian carrier, Air Peace would also begin direct flight to Dubai from PHIA as from April this year.
On the decongestion of Lagos airport, she explained that FAAN had encouraged airlines to divert some of their traffic to airports outside Lagos especially to the newly constructed terminals as the diversion of traffic from Lagos make use of the new state of the art terminals as it would help in putting them to maximum use.
She explained that it was necessary to divert traffic from Lagos to other airports within the country, but noted that Lagos would remain the hub of airports in Nigeria but rather than all airlines focus their attention on Lagos Airport, they could also make use of the state-of-the-art facilities in other aerodromes across the country, stressing that FAAN was determined to improve flying experience of air travellers within Nigeria.
Already, she hinted that Cronos Air operates three weekly frequencies; Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from PHIA, while Lufthansa Airlines flies four times weekly; Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from the same airport.
Also, Air France operates five weekly flights; Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, stressing that the Turkish flights would be operated four times weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, starting from June 25, 2019 from the same airport.
Apart from the foreign airlines, she emphasised that Air Peace would also commence direct flight operations to Accra from Abuja, while scheduled flights between Port Harcourt and Dubai operations of the airline would commence in April this year.
Besides, Yakubu explained that Air Cote d’Ivoire would commence direct flight from Abuja to its base in Abidjan soon.
She said: “Turkish Air and Emirates would soon commence direct flight to their bases from the new Port Harcourt International Airport terminal. We want to appeal to members of the public that they don’t have to come from Port Harcourt or any part of the Eastern state to fly out of the country.
“They can easily go to Port Harcourt to fly. Also, as you know, Abuja Airport new terminal too has opened and Emirates would be starting from the terminal from June. We are expecting all the international airlines to start operating also from Abuja Airport.
“We want to encourage our passengers that they don’t all have to come to Lagos even though we know Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of the country and the airport is the hub, but passengers can travel from Abuja and Port Harcourt airports to connect to their destinations so that we can decongest Lagos airport. Turkish will soon commence a direct flight from Port Harcourt to Turkey, while Emirates will also do so to Dubai.”
It would be recalled that the newly commissioned Abuja Airport has annual capacity of 15 million passengers, while Port Harcourt has annual capacity of five million passengers.