Lufthansa, others to boycott Kaduna Airport during closure of Abuja Airport

For logistical reasons, British Airways on Monday said it would not operate to Kaduna Airport. It cited facilities and logistics as reasons for the decision of the airline’s management. The carrier would now operate its Abuja flight to Lagos, making it twice daily.

It, however, assured that the carrier would immediately resume operations after the completion of work on the Abuja airport runway that is expected to undergo total overhauling for six weeks, starting from March this year. “I want to tell you that we have taken a decision not to operate to Kaduna because of logistics. We will resume operations immediately the facility is fixed,” Olayinka said.

This is coming on the heels of the disclosure by Lufthansa, the German airline, and South African Airways that they would not fly to the Kaduna airport during the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

Lufthansa Country Commercial Manager, Mr. Kola Olayinka, said last week that the decision not to go Kaduna as an alternative airport to Abuja was as a result of lack of inflight catering services. He added that for the carrier to operate to Kaduna, it would need to bring along both inbound and outbound meals/food, which will prove a burden to the airline.

Aside that, Olayinka listed other constraints that passengers would face, such as lack of common user terminals, information and technology equipment that would support their operations, fear of baggage loss, especially for passengers going beyond London, and difficulty of passengers travelling with children without good support facilities.

Just yesterday, South African Airways said it plans to suspend its Abuja operations during the six weeks period of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport runway repair.

The airline, in a letter to the authorities, said the measure became imperative following its decision not to fly to Kaduna Airport, designated to serve all Abuja-bound aircraft during the closure.

The implication of the temporary suspension of operations is that passengers of the airline can only board in Lagos and contend with limited flight options, while paying more for travel expenses.

South African Airways said its last flight into Abuja would be on March 6, while the Federal Government will close the airport on March 8.

It was gathered that the airline has already sent the notice of its position to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika. The letter to Sirika, from South African Airways by its Acting Chief Commercial Officer, Aaron Munetsi, said the operations to Abuja would resume on April 18, 2017.

“SAA commends the Nigerian authorities concerning the planned repairs of the NAIA runway. However, due to network and fleet operations planning, SAA regrets to advise that the airline will suspend its Abuja operations with effect from 6th March until the 18th April, 2017,” the letter read in part.

The airline said it would be in constant touch with the Nigerian aviation authorities as the repair work progresses in order to establish its readiness for revised operations in accordance with its work schedule.

If the airlines make good their plans to come to Lagos rather than Kaduna, it would put pressure on the existing facilities at the Lagos airport, which is in dire need of upgrade. Experts are suggesting that the Abuja airport, which is regarded as the second busiest airport in Nigeria behind Lagos, has just little passenger traffic below the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Aviation security consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said the country may be in for serious problem because the Lagos airport does not have the facility to handle additional flights of such magnitude.

The Lagos airport does not have enough carousels, avio bridges and capacity for additional traffic.

Ojikutu suggested that for the period when Abuja would be closed to traffic, the Lagos airport should be prepared for intercontinental and continental flights while the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) should be prepared for regional flights. He also suggested that the Minna airport should be readied for day operations and Kaduna airport for night operations

•Sourced from News Express/New Telegraph/The Guardian.

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