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FG still appealing to foreign airlines on Kaduna airport as NAIA closes today for repairs

As all is set for the shutdown of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja by midnight today, the federal government is continuing to appeal to some international airlines who have indicated that they may suspend operations to the destination pending when the repair works will be over. Their major concern is security and flexibility of available infrastructure at Kaduna Airport.

However, the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo had paid a scheduled visit to the Kaduna Airport and gave all preparations a pass mark, meaning that all is well with the facility for both local and international flight handling within the period of six weeks of Abuja closure.

Already, the federal government had put in place security structures to secure passengers who would be travelling from Kaduna to Abuja and the Inspector general of Police, Ibrahim Idris also assured of 24 hours patrol on the Kaduna Abuja highway within the period.

All these among others were disclosed in Abuja during a ministerial press briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika; and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

The government has also stepped up diplomatic moves as part of moves to lure some foreign airlines to rescind their decisions not to fly to the Kaduna International Airport during the closure of the Abuja airport.

It listed Lufthansa German Airlines and Turkish Airlines among the international carriers that it was in talks with, adding that the Kaduna airport’s facilities had now met global best standards.

Sirika, who disclosed this in Abuja, stated that the NAIA runway reconstruction would gulp over N5bn, adding that this was why it was important for the concession of the facility as well as other major airports across the country in order to enhance their capacity to deliver excellent services.

The minister said Ethiopian Airline was the only foreign airline that had expressed its readiness to fly to the Kaduna airport so far, adding that “we expect more to operate to the airport.”

Sirika said, “So far, we have Ethiopian Airline, which not only has confirmed their coming, but they said they would be coming with a brand new airplane, the latest aircraft in the whole world, a Boeing 787.

“We are still talking with Lufthansa and Turkish Airline on their intent to come. We may conclude today and at the end of the day, we will know if they will or not.”

“We have calibrated the landing systems in Kaduna airport. All the open items spotted by international airlines have been closed. We have a mobile control tower in Kaduna. We have a good runway there.

“The terminal building and very important personality lounge are almost ready. We have provided free buses and rail transport for passengers to and from Kaduna. We are good to go with regards to airport logistics.

Other value added services being put in place by the government include the approval of the provision of complimentary bus and train services to passengers travelling to and from Kaduna.

Serika also revealed that “During the period, traffic would be diverted to the Kaduna International Airport and adequate provision for passengers’ facilitation has been put in place for ease of travelling. Please, note that details of international and domestic flight schedules by individual airlines and all relevant information regarding the closure can be found on the website: www.abujaairportclosure.info and some select print and electronic media.”

Sirika reiterated the Federal Government’s plan to give out all the airports through concession for efficiency, beginning with the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports.