Major airlines give Kaduna airport a miss

Nigeria’s capital has cut off by air since Wednesday because the Abuja airport will be closed for at least six weeks for repairs.

The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was shut to all domestic and international flights from midnight on Tuesday, pending the start of long-overdue work to resurface its potholed runway.

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 from Addis Ababa, which ordinarily would have landed in Abuja, instead touched down in Kaduna, about 190km to the north.

Fire service tenders gave a traditional water-cannon salute as it taxied to a standstill on the apron. Ethiopian Airlines is the only foreign carrier to switch routes to Kaduna.

Others, including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and SAA have declined to do so. They questioned Kaduna’s ability to handle long-haul flights and were concerned about the safety of passengers and staff, who would have to travel by road between the two cities.

But Nigeria’s aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, told reporters shortly after the first flight arrived: “There are quite a few doubting Thomases whether Kaduna can work. Kaduna is working.” The other airlines were now “probably regretting” their decision, he said.

An AFP reporter at Kaduna airport said security in and around the facility was tight, although work on parts of the new terminal building had not been finished.

One international passenger headed for Rome, who gave his name only as Giovanni, described the Kaduna building as “a work in progress. They are painting the wall, they are cleaning the door, they are moving the seats … the work should have been completed two days to the opening,” he said.

Giovanni said it took him more than two hours to get to Kaduna from Abuja by bus but “I have not seen any problem on the road. The road is good, well paved and large.”

Ubong Ambrose, another passenger, complained about the deafening noise from contactors working on the VIP lounge and the fact that his ticket was handwritten instead of issued electronically.

“Apart from that, everything is as seen in other airports,” he said just before he caught his flight to Canada.

Sirika pledged that work at Abuja airport would be completed on time — within six weeks.

The runway was built in 1982 with a 20-year lifespan. The aviation ministry has described it as “dilapidated” and “unsafe”, leaving no option but to resurface it.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Aminu Abubakar
Aminu Abubakar
Aminu Abubakar is a journalist based in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, where he grew up. He worked for local newspapers before joining Agence France-Presse (AFP) in 2000 as a freelance correspondent covering northern Nigeria.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Explainer: Why it is difficult to mine in South Africa

The Fraser Institute's annual survey of mining companies is not entirely wrong, South Africa is a difficult place to mine, say analysts

Afrofuturism meets Wabi-Sabi at Design Joburg

Architects, fashion designers and tastemakers descend on Johannesburg’s premium design event

Asiatic black bear cubs saved from illegal wildlife trade in...

Two bear cubs, weighing only 2.4kg and 3.3kg, were rescued from a man intending to sell them on the illicit wildlife market

How the ANC wants to re-evaluate cadre deployment during policy...

The party's decision to relook at the deployment process could result in a broadening of the pool of candidates for positions.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…