Three weeks after the closure of Abuja International Airport for runway repairs, many foreign Airlines have refused to fly into an alternative hub – the Kaduna Airport contrary to Nigerian government’s expectation.
The situation has grounded business operations around the airport.
TVC News Aviation Correspondent Lilian Eze-Mark visited the Kaduna airport and reports that the Airlines complain about sub-standard infrastructure, poor passenger facilitation and lack of co-ordination among security personnel at the Kaduna airport terminal.
The carriers say they are insured to fly into Abuja not Kaduna airport.
The Kaduna Airport Manager, Amina Ozi-Salami, defends government’s position, saying it’s in the best interest of the country.
This veteran pilot and Airline Operator explains the state of the Instrument Landing System at the Airport.
Foreign Airlines servicing Nigerian airspace include British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Air France and KLM. Others are Air Cote d’Ivoire, Asky,kenyan Airways, Egypt Air and South African Airways.
The carriers are believed to have lost billions of dollars, though none of them says exact amount.
Apart from not lifting passengers , these airlines have refunded airfares to passengers who booked before the development.
Some airlines have ordered their staff on extended leave.
It is not a good time for ground handling companies. One of such firms says it used to make between N70-N80 million a month at Abuja Airport. Now, the story is different.
Nigerian airline operators say they have lost about N10 billion in the first three weeks of closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
According to the airlines the losses were as a result of low passenger traffic, more fuel consumption and increased remuneration due to crew’s extra flight time.
Some of the operators and passengers said passenger traffic has significantly reduced because many people, who would not want to go through Kaduna, have suspended their trips to Abuja till the airport will be reopened.
The Nigerian government and its agencies are losing money. Enroute and aerodrome charges for Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, ticket Sales Charge for Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, landing, parking or ticket sales charges for Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria are not receivable for now.
There are no figures on how much money business operators in Abuja have lost to Kaduna airport. But industry stakeholders say everyone doing business at the facility is adversely affected.
Hoteliers and caterers are sacking their workers at Abuja.Yet, it is boom time for operators in Kaduna.
A car hire operator said travel from Abuja to Kaduna costs between N25,000-N30,00 ($79- $95).
An industry stakeholder observed that for more than 30 years, the runway never witnessed any major maintenance work.
That is also the fate of the 22 airports under the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Meanwhile, the federal government has reassured the public that it would meet the 6- week deadline for flight operations to resume at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.