Following government’s proposed plan to close the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for runway repairs, the Canadian government has rejected the Kaduna airport as an alternative route.
The Canadian government has reiterated its advisory warning to citizens against visiting Kaduna state especially with the relocation of Abuja airport activities to the state with effect from March 8th. The warning reads:
You are recieving this mail because you are registered with the Government of canada’s Registration of Canadians Abroad Service. Please Share the following important information with other Canadian nationals in your area.
Please note that the Travel Advice and Advisory for Nigeria has recently been updated to indicate that: The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja will be closed for maintenance from March 8 to April 19, 2017.
During this period, the Kaduna International Airport, which is located in Kaduna state, approximately 200 kilometres North of Abuja has been designated as the alternative airport for Abuja.
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to Kaduna state. Check with your airline or travel agent to determine how this closure will affect your travel plans.”
Before this latest update, Global Affairs Canada had earlier blacklisted all northern and Middle Belt states of Borno, Gombe, Yobe, Kano, Adamawa, Kaduna, Bauchi and Plateau due to the high risk of terrorism, inter-communal violence and kidnapping.
Also blacklisted were Niger Delta states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Anambra, and Rivers (with the exception of the capital city Port Harcourt) due to the unstable security situation and the heightened risk of kidnapping.
Canadian government generally advised its citizens against non-essential travel to Nigeria, with the exception of Abuja, Calabar and Lagos, where travellers were advised to exercise a high degree of caution because of the unpredictable security situation throughout the country, given the significant risk of terrorism, crime, inter-communal clashes, armed attacks and kidnappings.
Meanwhile, foreign Airlines have also given notifications to the Federal Government of their intention not to operate from Kaduna airport following the Abuja Airport closure.
Despite government’s frantic efforts to allay the fears of the airlines, British Airways has notified the federal government that it will not operate from the Kaduna Airport during the closure of the Abuja Airport, likewise other airlines like South African Airways, SAA, Lufthansa, KLM-Air France had earlier said they would not operate from Kaduna due to safety and security challenges.
British Airways Country Manager, Mr. Kola Olayinka, had said the airline plans to assess its best options for its customers during the closure period of the runway. Olayinka said;
“I can confirm that BA will not be operating to Kaduna during the planned closure of the Abuja Airport. Many factors were considered before this decision was reached, major ones are concerned about the safety and security of our passengers as well as difficulties around some key operational issues.
“We are currently evaluating all options for our customers planning to travel at that time and we will be reaching out directly to them for information about their trip.”
He further explained that catering services as well as “adequate technology were not in Kaduna including simple technologies like the Common User Terminal Equipment among others”.
South African Airways has reportedly written a letter, signed by the acting chief commercial officer, SAA, Mr. Aaron Munetsi, to the minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika informing him that it would cease flight operations to Abuja on March 6, 2017, days before the closure of the airport.
Recall that earlier, the foreign airlines had told the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, that they will not operate from Kaduna Airport due to security issues in Kaduna State, during a stakeholders meeting held in Abuja to address all issues relating to the proposed closure.