British Airways and South African Airways are the latest international Airline Operators to reject the Kaduna Airport which has been chosen by the federal government as an alternative to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, during the period it would be closed.
The Abuja airport is going to be shut down on March 8 for six weeks so that repair works could be carried out on the airport’s runway.
Recall that a number of reputable airlines, including Lufthansa, KLM and Air France, had already said that they will cancel their Abuja flight operations as long as the closure lasts, citing safety and security concerns.
Spokesman of South African Airways, Tlali Tlali, stated that the “the proposal would impact on aircraft availability and connectivity for our passengers.”Similarly, Kola Olayinka, the country commercial manager for British Airways, also told newsmen in Lagos that the company will not fly to Kaduna.
Olayinka listed a number of challenges that informed the decision namely:poor facilities, fear of baggage loss and difficulty for passengers travelling with children, among others.
“I want to tell you that we have taken a decision not to operate to Kaduna because of logistics. We will resume operations immediately the facility is fixed,” he said.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had constantly maintained that closing down the Abuja airport was the best option due to the fact that the lifespan of the runway had long elapsed and the damage was huge.
He rejected suggestions proffered by many Nigerians, including the idea of carrying out the repair works at night while flight operations continue during the day.
Another idea was the construction of an emergency runway for aircraft’s use while the major runway is being repaired.
Sirika and officials of Julius Berger Construction Company which is handling the repair works insisted that closing down the airport was the most viable option.They however assured Nigerians that the duration of the closure would not exceed the six-week deadline.
The federal government also promised to put in place all the necessary safety, security and logistics requirements to ensure smooth conveyance of air passengers from the Kaduna airport to Abuja and vice versa.