Airlines Insist Shutting Abuja Airport For Rehabilitation Not Necessary


Airline Operators in Nigeria have told the federal government that shutting down the Abuja airport in order to effect repairs on its runway was unnecessary.

Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria, Noggie Meggison, made this known during a stakeholders’ forum organized by the Minister of state for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, adding, however, that the association will accept any final decision taken by the government on the matter.

Meggison suggested that the repairs could be carried out at night, between 6 pm and 6 am, while flights will be allowed to operate during the day.He cited an instance with the Gatwick airport in the UK, which he said has only one runway just like the Abuja airport has only one runway.

According to Meggison, the airport did not shut down when repairs were carried out on its runway, despite the fact that Gatwick has more than 10 times the volume of air traffic that the Abuja airport has.

Meggison also commended the aviation minister for the zeal and sincerity with which he has run the ministry since assuming office.

He added that his association was in total support of government’s plans to repair the Abuja airport runway, but wants government to reconsider shutting the entire airport down for six weeks.

In the same vein, a representative of foreign airlines in Abuja, Osho Joseph, said that “the Kaduna may be an alternative for local operators but definitely not for international airline operators.”



    Also speaking at the meeting, the Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, said it is not true that Britain plans to shut down its embassy in Abuja because of the proposed airport closure, adding that the country will support Nigeria at all times.

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    Representative of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Gambo Hamza, gave assurances that the state government will ensure smooth operations during the period.

    He revealed that the state government had begun cleaning up of the airport, as well as putting adequate security arrangement in place.

    According to the plan by the federal government, while the repair works are being carried out at the Abuja airport runway, Abuja-bound flights are expected to land at the Kaduna airport and passengers subsequently transported in secure buses to Abuja.

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