• Old terminal to shutdown October 1
• Suspends Sirika’s controversial Nigeria Air, airport concession projects
Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, yesterday, ordered the immediate relocation of all foreign airlines to the new but deserted Chinese terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.
Keyamo, on a tour of the airport yesterday, said the mandatory evacuation is to pave the way for shutdown and renovation of the old MMIA terminal beginning from October 1.
Similarly, the minister also directed suspension of the embattled Nigeria Air and the airport concession projects of his predecessor, Hadi Sirika, pending an “honest assessment” of the exercise.
About 15 months after its official opening, the new international terminal is still largely deserted because of constraints over aircraft parking space, provision of which was not included in the original design that dated back to 2013.
The structural defect features the terminal with a multi-layered car park on its right shoulder and general aviation hangars on its left, both of which are encumbrances for wide-body aircraft to gain easy access to about four passenger facilitation fingers of the terminal.
As at the last check by The Guardian, only eight airlines – all African carriers – occupy the edifice, built at an estimated cost of $100 million borrowed from China.
For legacy carriers, the complaint has been that the design flaw had little or no consideration for aircraft parking lot and apron for manoeuvring of wide-body airplanes.
Apparently not unaware of the space constraint, Keyamo said efforts were on to also relocate “obstructing” Dominion and EAN hangars, to make way for requisite aircraft parking space.
In the interim, he said the government would also do an emergency procurement to ensure buses are provided to transit international passengers to and from where wide-body aircraft are currently parked for boarding and disembarkation.
He said: “The major complaints have been with the old terminal. That place is an eyesore to Nigerians coming into the country. The lifts are not working. The passages are unwelcoming and there is no air conditioner. We have the new terminal but (it) cannot be used. It was designed without provision for big planes!
“I don’t know what happened and I have been asking that question that makes them not have avio bridges that would lead to the big planes. Sixty per cent of revenue for FAAN comes from the Lagos airport. Beyond that, Lagos airport is the gateway and the first impression into the country.
“We must use what we have for now. I have given both international and local airlines till October 1, 2023, to move from the old terminal to the new one. We are going to shut down the old terminal temporarily and sort out all the issues surrounding the old terminal such as concession agreements and so on.”
At the official opening of the state-of-the-art terminal in March 2022, then President Muhammadu Buhari was proud of the much-awaited facility as a befitting replacement for the eyesore that the 45-year-old MMIA old terminal had become.
As at last year, only Air Peace, Asky and African World Airline (AWA) had a presence in the terminal. The list has increased, with the likes of South African Airlines, Air Côte d’Ivoire, Air Senegal, and Royal Air Maroc.
The new facility, however, has a capacity for over 30 airlines. Covering a landmass of approximately 56,000 square metres, the terminal has 66 check-in counters to process 14 million passengers yearly.
The country manager of one of the European carriers said the terminal is very good, but “still not up to standard, and the reason a lot of us will have challenges with it.”
“I think it is okay to compel everyone into the space. We hope to see how it goes with the volume of passengers and multiple airlines coming in at peak periods,” he said.