From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
The proposed plans to decongest the Lagos airport by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) is to spur the maximum utilization of other airports in Nigeria, especially the newly commissioned ones across the different parts of the country.
To achieve this, the authority has asked airlines and travellers to divert traffic to aerodrome they consider good enough to cater for their operations outside the Lagos zone, with the international wing of the Murtala Muhammad Airport worst affected.
The agency image maker, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu told journalists that the diversions from Lagos would ensure the utilization of the newly commissioned terminals of Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omegwa and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
The duo of Turkish Airlines and Emirates, she disclosed have indicated their readiness to commence scheduled flight operations from PHIA and NAIA, respectively from June, while Air Peace would also begin direct flight to Dubai from PHIA as from April this year.
Mrs. Henrietta, who is the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN reiterated the need to deflect traffic from the Lagos end to other airports within the country, but noted that Lagos would remain the hub of airports in Nigeria.
She explained that rather than the entire airlines focused 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.
Aside the foreign carrier, 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, she added.
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.
She further informed that Kano Airport with another five million annual capacity would come on stream in the next two months, adding that the new terminal at Lagos airport would also be commissioned “soon.”
“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”, she said.