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Confusion as leading airlines denounce re-routing during NAIA shut down

Indications have emerged that major international airlines may shun Nigeria within the period of the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) for repairs of the runway. This is due to their rejection of re-routes via Kaduna Airport or any other one other than the Abuja Airport. The repair works according to the Minister will take about six weeks.

There have been several reports that potholes have damaged aircraft, prompting one international carrier to cancel its flights on the route.

But Lufthansa, Air France and South African Airways have all said they will not re-route their flights to Abuja from Frankfurt, Paris and Johannesburg, to Kaduna or elsewhere in Nigeria.

Otherwise, foreign airlines are refusing to fly to an alternative hub when the only airport serving Nigeria’s capital shuts down, forcing travellers to make lengthy detours at extra cost.

The airport is expected to be closed for flights completely for runway repairs on March 8. Domestic and international flights will be diverted to Kaduna, a city lying about 170 kilometres (105 miles) away.

Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Serika had disclosed earlier that the planned six weeks of resurfacing work were needed because the runway, which was built in 1982 with a 20-year lifespan, was “dilapidated” and “unsafe”.

Industry watchers say the refusal to re-route showed that major international airlines do not see Kaduna as a “credible alternative”.

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