Abuja airport closure: NANTA demands foreign carriers use Lagos

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The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has urged the federal government to allow foreign carriers fly Abuja-bound passengers to Lagos, leaving domestic airlines to do the distribution of the passengers to Kaduna Airport.

NANTA said this would be the best option since some of the international carriers have expressed reservations on flying to Kaduna airport.

The Federal Government is expected to close the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) for six weeks beginning from March 9 for the rehabilitation of the runway while Kaduna International Airport has been designated as alternative for Abuja-bound flights.

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Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had last week met with stakeholders on the planned closure but representatives of foreign airlines expressed reservation with the alternative being offered by government.

NANTA president Bankole Bernard argued that foreign airlines might not find Kaduna Airport convenient and some of them might be forced to withdraw their aircraft which may bring more hardship to passengers.

“As things are now, it will not augur well asking the international carriers to go to Kaduna, some of them have expressed their displeasure on the idea of going to Kaduna. So for us not to experience airlines withdrawing from Nigeria because once they take this aircraft away from Nigeria, it might be difficult bringing them back and that will lead to lesser inventory or choice of travelling for us which will lead to increase in cost of travelling for us,” he said.

“So we are recommending that the government can direct all the international airlines to operate from Lagos within that six weeks that the Abuja runway will be under renovation and that will give our local carriers the opportunity to partner with the international carriers by moving their passengers from Lagos to Kaduna and there they get a free shuttle to Abuja.

“We think this will work well and the international carriers will still stay and render the same services they have been doing without increasing their fares.”

NANTA also advised the Federal Government to embark on the implementation and construction of a second runway immediately to serve as alternative in the event the main runway would be shut down in future.

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