Representatives of international airlines operators have rejected the Kaduna International Airport as alternative destination for Abuja flights to enable government carry out repairs on the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting yesterday, a representative of the international airlines operators, Mr. Osho Joseph said Kaduna international airport is not an option for them.
“We believe Kaduna may be an alternative for local operators but definitely not for international airline operators. But we will get back on this,” he said.
In his response, the minister of state for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said it is an economic decision on the part of all stakeholders in the sector to fly to Kaduna during the six weeks required for repairs.
“On whether some of the international airline won’t fly to Kaduna, that’s an economic decision. But we will ensure they are comfortable if they chose to fly to Kaduna. Kaduna has the capacity to take jumbo jets and B777s” he said.
The minister said “what I have is not final. We are still open to new knowledge on this matter. At the end of our preparation, stakeholders will be invited to inspect Kaduna to ask further questions.”
On security, he explained that the federal government and the Kaduna State Government will provide “security within the airport, Kaduna Metropolitan City, enroute to railway station & along Kaduna- Abuja road.”
He also said air surveillance of the entire route will be provided by the Police and the Air Force even as road safety personnel will be deployed to ensure smooth flow of traffic.
He also assured that bad portions on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway will be fixed before the March 8 commencement date.
The minister also said he is already engaging with stakeholders and service providers like hoteliers with a view to improving service delivery.
He said passengers will be screened in Abuja, possibly at the old parade ground, Area 11 before buses will take them to Kaduna for free. However the passengers will be screened again at Kaduna airport.
On the scope of work to be done on the runway he said about 48,000 tonnes of asphalt by milling will be removed and reinstalled, over 400 shallow bases will be removed, about 20km of cables will be laid, 50 tonnes of asphalt reinforcement to be placed and the runway lighting system to be replaced and upgraded.
In addition to the buses that will be provided by Federal Ministry of Transport and other interested stakeholders, the train services will also be available and helicopter services for those who can afford it.
The minister ruled out carrying out repairs of the Abuja airport runway at night as suggested by some stakeholders saying “We know that option but we can’t possibly work at night on Abuja airport” the minister said adding that the entire running has failed.
The Abuja airport is scheduled to be closed on March 8 for six weeks to enable work on its runway which the minister said has failed.