The Federal Government has said the three airports close to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, Abuja, do not meet the criteria set for alternative airports to Abuja. - From Vanguard News
This, however, did not go down well with stakeholders in the aviation industry, who expressed divergent views on the alternative airport and the total closure of the Abuja Airport from March 8 to April 19, 2017.
Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, during the stakeholders forum in Abuja, yesterday, said three other airports close to Abuja— Minna Airport in Niger State, Yakubu Gowon Airport in Jos and Ilorin Airport in Kwara— did not meet the criteria set by the Federal Government as alternative airports.
The minister, while explaining the rationale behind the choice of Kaduna airport, said: “Niger and Kwara states are probably thinking they are better alternatives, they are very good alternatives for sure but unfortunately, there are quite a number of criteria we looked at which the other airports did not meet before we chose Kaduna.
He recalled the experiences of airlines on the Abuja runway, saying: “On December 4, 2013, a Saudi Arabian cargo plane damaged its landing gear in a major incident at the Abuja airport runway, which led to the closure of the airport for several hours, from the night of December 4 to the evening of the following day.
The cooperation of all stakeholders is, therefore, required to enable us go through this transition period with minimal discomfort.” Expressing their misgivings about the decision of the Federal Government, stakeholders, including Aviation Operators of Nigeria, AON; International Airline Operators, IAO; embassies in Abuja and the Nigerian Association of Travel Agencies, NATA, among others were not in agreement with Federal Government on the choice of Kaduna as alternative airport and total closure of the Abuja airport Responding, however, Executive Secretary, Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency, Mallam Gambo Hamza, said Kaduna was ready to take the traffic while the state had made provision for security with 20 policemen on standby at every kilometre.