The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, yesterday, directed all international airlines to vacate the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, from October 1, 2023.
He also ordered the suspension of airports’ concession, the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, along with other contracts in the sector.
The minister equally said both Dominion and EAN hangers would have to give way for the expansion of MMIA terminal two.
Keyamo further issued a three-month ultimatum to airlines to remove all their unserviceable aircraft at the airport to give room for expansion, adding that the airlines had been notified to commence immediate relocations of their tickets sales offices to the new terminal for the commencement of renovation of MMIA.
Speaking after a tour of the international airports in Lagos, Keyamo, accompanied by the Managing Director of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Kabir Yusuf Mohammed, along with other aviation stakeholders, said: “The major complaints of Nigerians or foreigners coming into the country have been with this old terminal. That place is an eyesore. The lifts are not working, the entrance is unwelcoming.
“Airconditioning systems are not effective, among other things, and we have this new terminal that the Chinese built which is under utilised.
“Although, there have been lots of questions as to why the new terminal is not being utilised optimally, the simple reason is that the new terminal was designed without provision to take big planes. I wondered why that happened.
“I have been asking questions as to how they would design an international gateway such as the Lagos airport terminal two without a provision to take the big planes.
“We do not have the avio bridges that can even connect with big planes, which is also a challenge. That has been the problem we have not been using this new terminal.
“It would interest you that, 60 per cent of FAAN’s revenue comes in from the Lagos gateway. It is one of the major gateways into the country.
“So what is the solution to this? I have said we must use what we have for now. I have told them that I am giving the international airlines, and every other company utilising the facility till October 1, 2023, to move from the old terminal to terminal 2.
“What we are going to do temporarily is to shut down the old terminal and sort out all the issues regarding the renovation.
“So like many other countries, we are going to do emergency procurement to buy the big buses and move them to where the big planes stop in an orderly fashion, both arrival and departure so that you can have some kind of comfort with this new facility.
“The long term plan is that we are going to find a way to build avio bridges for the big bodies coming in.
Suspension of Nigeria air, other contract
While commenting on the airport concession and national carrier, Keyamo said the projects would have to be suspended until further notice.
He said: “There are issues already on ground, before I came in, like concessions, Nigeria Air, among others, all of that for now have been suspended until I brief Mr. President as to what is happening regarding all of those noises.
“I always appreciate his honesty. He brought me here to correctly advise him, so I’m looking at all the agreements and everything that was signed to correctly inform him.
“I owe my total loyalty to Nigerians to have the best of aviation services, and to Mr. President, and that’s what we are doing.”
Relocation of hangers
The minister noted that terminal 2 was already challenged due to the non-provision of avio bridges, along with hangers for big planes.
He said: “Some of those private terminals, those private hangers, have to go for public purpose. We will relocate them, so we can have a functional beautiful gateway to Nigerians.”
Reinstallation of stolen int’l runway light
The minister also decried the poor state of security at the airport, following the theft of over 187 runway lightening already stationed at the international runway.
“The main reason we are yet to be utilize the 18R/36L is the absence of light leading to the runway. It’s pathetic that security operatives are around yet these facilities are taken. There should be an in-house person involved in this arrangement.
“These lights cannot be sold in ordinary markets. Who are the buyers? Well, we are going to provide logistics to FAAN to enable them bring the lighting meant for Kano airport to Lagos since we already have an emergency here,’’ the minister said.(VANGUARD NEWS)