The Ministry of Transportation announced yesterday, that the Abuja airport (Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport) scheduled to be closed from February for repairs will now be closed from March 8 instead.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had announced last month that the airport will be closed for six weeks between February and March 2017, for total reconstruction, adding that the closure will be to allow Julius Berger carry out total reconstruction on the badly damaged airport runway.
The new date was announced after a meeting between Minister of State (Aviation) and stakeholders in the sector. No reason was given for the date change.
The decision to shut the airport and divert Abuja-bound flights to Kaduna, an airport used primarily for domestic flights about 160 kilometres (100 miles) to the north, was taken after airlines threatened to stop flying to the capital.
The Ministry’s spokesman James Odaudu said the meeting enabled the minister to brief the stakeholders on efforts being made to ensure that the use of Kaduna’s airport is “seamless and hitch-free”.
According to the plan, flights to the Abuja airport will be diverted to the Kaduna Airport, about 160 kilometres to Abuja and passengers traveling to Abuja will travel in bus shuttles, guarded by security provided by the government, to the capital.
Meanwhile, the Niger State Government has asked the federal government to consider using the Minna airport as an alternative airport during the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for rehabilitation.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Jonathan Tsado Vatsa, who disclosed this in a statement said using the Minna airport as an alternative to the Abuja airport during the period of its repairs would save air travelers a lot of hours that would be lost if airplanes were diverted to other places.
He also added that this will fast track the dualization work on the road from Minna, the Niger State capital, to Suleja.