…as Dunoma, Akinkuotu assure of safety
By Sade Williams
Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday appealed to all foreign airlines operating into Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, not to see the diversion of flights from the airport to Kaduna as an attempt to disrupt their operations but a temporary arrangement to put things in order, urging them to cooperate with government on the arrangement.
He spoke to journalists shortly after inspecting facilities at Kaduna international airport with representatives of foreign airlines, Governor of the State, Nasir El-Rufai, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed and managing directors of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Fola Akinkuotu, Director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Muhtar Usman.
Osinbajo, who noted that there are still a few facilities to be put in place at the airport, said government’s priority is safety and comfort of travelers, adding that the airport must be equipped to meet international standard.
“Well, one thing that is very clear is that it is not all foreign airlines that are declining to come, I have met some here today who are willing to come, I have just spoken to Ethiopian airline, they are willing to come. I think what we need to tell foreign airlines is that obviously, this is an emergency, and a temporary arrangement, and they should really work with us with that temporary arrangement and we are concerned about safety and comfort.
“They are here also to see for themselves, we will be happy if they work with us, we will be happy if they see it as temporary and cope with some of the flight inconveniences here and there. And so we are persuading them to see it as a good temporary arrangement and some of them are quite happy”, he said.
He directed the contractors to complete some major works at the terminal building before the closure of Abuja airport on Tuesday night, saying that though, it may not be in a complete state by Wednesday, but the main safety and security facilities were already installed.
“Basically, what we are trying to look at is the state of readiness and considering the fact that this is really a local airport, a lot of work need to be done to get the kind of standard that is required, work has made considerable progress, but there is still quite a few things to be done but some of them will be completed this weekend, the ceiling and air conditioning and other facilities. But we think that it may not be in a complete state of readiness by Wednesday but I expect that within the short period they have, it should have been a very beautiful and comfortable work.
“We have already told them that they certainly need to speed up, as a matter of fact, they need to double the number of people who are working on the ceiling and other facilities, they certainly need to work much faster and much more diligently to deliver the job”, he added.
Also speaking, Dunoma explained that every facility that an international airline needs to operate a flight is ready at the airport, adding that many of the foreign airlines will make their decision after inspection the facilities on Friday.
“We are ready to take foreign airlines, all the things that they need for international operations are on ground, what is important actually, is the safety equipment they need, the ILS has been installed, the runway is good, the terminal building will be ready in the next five days, the acting president has directed the contractors to complete some items before the commencement of international flights.The foreign airlines have agreed, that is why they are here, they will be conducted round the facility.The contractors have been directed by the acting president to complete in five days. I wouldn’t know which of the foreign airlines have finalised their decision to come but all of them are here today”, he said.
“Screening will be done here but the terminal building in Abuja will not be shut down for passengers who will want to come to Kaduna through there. Kaduna airport is one of the latest airport in Nigeria with five generators”, he added.
Akinkuotu, who praised NAMA workers, especially the engineers for a good job at the airport, noted that the mobile tower will be moved from Abuja airport to Kaduna on the night of March 7, when the airport would be closed to traffic to enhance communication at the airport.
“NAMA works provide safety facilities because our work is Navigation, Surveillance and Communication, NAMA is very satisfied that it has done a good job. The glidescope, the ILS are in place, we have the approach flight that actually complement the ILS. The mobile tower will moved from Abuja to this place on the night of March 7 once Abuja is closed. The NAMA engineers have been fantastic in installing many of these facilities”, he said.