Aviation professionals under the aegis of Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals ( ANAP), have endorsed the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport ( NNIA), Abuja for the proposed six weeks repair of its runway.
ANAP said failure to close the airport for immediate repairs could be invitation for air disaster.
Speaking at a briefing in Lagos, Secretary General of ANAP, Comrade Abdulrasaq Saidu said the closure of Abuja Airport remains not negotiable because of the safety hazards the continued use of the runway portends for the industry .
Saidu also faulted three aviation unions namely : National Union of Air Transport Employees ( NUATE) Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria ( ATSSSAN) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers ( NAAPE) which wrote a letter to President Buhari to express opposition to the closure of Abuja Airport.
He said the unions were wrong in considering loss of revenue to aviation agencies to safety of lives over use of an airport which runway is completely dilapidated .
Saidu accused the three unions of pursuing a political agenda over the Abuja Airport closure , when as aviation workers they should be driven by safety interests .
” ANAP supports the closure of Abuja Airport for its runway . This is not negotiable . We cannot wait for an aircraft crash to fix Abuja Airport runway. This is a safety critical issue.
“This is why ANAP is disappointed over the letter written to the President by NUATE, ATSSSAN and NAAPE that the airport should not be closed .
“This is a wrong position and highly unprofessional. Even, air traffic controllers have been complaining about the bad runway. The NCAA has remained silent on the poor state of Abuja Airport runway. What is the duty of the aerodrome inspectorate of the NCAA , if it cannot write FAAN to close the airport until the runway is repaired
Also speaking, Administrative Secretary of Nigerian Union of Pensioners ( NUP), FAAN branch, Comrade Emeka Njoku supported the closure of Abuja Airport .
He said the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika should invite former managing directors of FAAN to get their input on the best model to adopt in repairing the runway .
He said from their experience in managing the airport runway, they would advise the minister on how to get the runway on track for flight services .
According to him:The minister should invite former MDs of FAAN , they know how they have been fixing the runway . May be they could advise on partial closure or other ways to fix the runway.
“But, there are a few concerns about the use of Kaduna as alternate airport because of security and other constraints. This may perhaps affect majorly foreign carriers .”