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KADUNA-INTERNATIONAL-AIRPORT

Start concessioning with Kaduna airport as it lies fallow after N2bn facelift

Considering the near state of inactivity of Kaduna International Airport (KIA) since the end of repairs and return of flight activities at that Abuja Airport, industry experts have called on the Federal Government who had been inching to concession federal airports to start with the airport.

Before now, the federal government had been displaying a body language showing its determination to concession top busy airports including Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

But pundits argue that it is better for government to concession collapsing airports than thriving ones, stressing that medical everywhere in the world are for ailing citizens.

Kaduna Airport was recently upgraded to international status to drive traffic in the wake of repair works at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. But few weeks down the line, the aerodrome has returned to its sleepy state amidst huge investment that might just have been a waste.

Analysts are aware that except for Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, Airports nationwide are perpetually dormant.

While some are blessed with one or two flights operations per day, several others rarely see landing or takeoff in weeks. And at nightfall when most airports around the world are at the peak, their counterparts in Nigeria are getting closed for the day.

Besides, findings have shown that it is not due to fault of officials or commercial airlines. Most of the 26 airports lack good airfield lighting. Hence, any attempt to operate after 6:30pm is just a disaster waiting to happen.

Billions worth of investment met purpose and Kaduna International Airport came alive. Given a newly installed Instrument Landing System (ILS), Category 9 upgrade of facilities, expanded runway, fire cover and new passenger terminal; it was with delight that the airport opened with Ethiopian Airline’s (ET) 787 dream-liner landed safely last March.

With asphalt been laid on Abuja airport’s sole runway, over 100 local flights were taking turns per day at Kaduna. Official records have it that over 3,533 aircraft flights and 170,150 passengers were recorded within the six weeks period.

Otherwise, with the airport already back in bed due to low activities, there are worries over the investment deployed into its upgrade. It will be recalled that the Kaduna International Airport was picked ahead of Minna Airport, notwithstanding infrastructural constraint at the airport and insecurity in the state. Infrastructure was addressed and security well managed.

The mindset of several pundits is that for the fact that the Federal Government transformed the airport, spending about two billion naira. Rather, for exigency of the moment to avail an alternative airport since Abuja airport, the second busiest in the country, was closing down for overdue rehabilitation exercise.

Spokesperson of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Henrietta Yakubu, argued that though there is no comparing what the KIA was like in March and April to what it is now, but the airport has seen significant improvement in traffic as more flights operations are taking place at the airport.

She said: “It is not as if the airport has shut down after NAIA reopened. No! What we should realise is that the airport cannot continue to maintain the full capacity like it did during the diversion. We have been going there before the diversion and have continued after the reopening of Abuja airport”.

“I’m aware that Ethiopian Airlines is considering direct flight from KIA to Addis Ababa. So, definitely, investment of the Federal Government will not go to waste just like that. Airlines will continue to fly into the airport. You know that they do Hajj operations there too. So, the airport is bound to still be running, though may not be at capacity.”

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