The Federal Government on Thursday announced that it would open up a lounge for the elderly and physically-challenged persons at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on the exact day that the NAIA would be reopened for flight services.
It also stated that it was carrying out a complete rehabilitation of the departure terminal at the airport, adding that work on the runway was about 57.5 per cent complete.
These were disclosed at during an inspection of the airport by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; and the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
The ongoing repair at the Abuja airport has entered its fourth week as the facility was closed on March 8 and flights to the NAIA diverted to the Kaduna International Airport. The Federal Government has promised that it will unfailingly reopen the Abuja airport on April 19.
Speaking to journalists after inspecting the airport, Sirika stated that the NAIA would be reopened with a fully rehabilitated departure terminal and a lounge for the disabled and elderly people.
He said, “Work is going on smoothly on the runway and everything is in order, and we have done about 57.5 per cent of the total work. This shows that we are on course, on time and doing what we are supposed to do to ensure that the runway opens to flight operations come April 19.
“I’m glad to say that this airport will be opened come the 19th of April, and it will not only be opened at the time, but the terminal building will wear a new look, for we are doing a complete rehabilitation of the Terminal D. We will put escalators or lifts at the departure hall of that terminal.”
He added, “Also, we are opening up a lounge for the disabled or physically-challenged and the elderly, and this is a response from our folks and from the feedback we get. This has been part of what we planned earlier on. In Terminal D, we are building and will install a new lift, as well as provide other ancillary services.
“So I guess that the benefits of this airport closure means that we will have improved terminals. Terminals that will be more robust and can take more passengers and create some seamless flow of international and local passengers not mixing, for they will be in different sites of the airport according to global standards.”
Mohammed stated that it was important for the government to update Nigerians on how far it had gone with the work at the Abuja airport.
He said, “We were in Kaduna last week and had a wholesome experience of the efforts put in place to ensure minimal inconvenience and maximum security and safety occasioned by the temporary closure of the Abuja airport.
“We believe it is befitting to inspect this airport again since three weeks out of the six weeks we promised have gone. This is to see the extent of work that has been done and for us to reiterate that the six weeks we promised the world is still valid and we don’t intend to give any excuse.”
On flight statistics at the Kaduna airport since the closure of the NAIA, Sirika stated that about 77,000 international and local passengers were transported through the KIA.
“So far we’ve had about 50 international flights from Kaduna, we moved about 4,000 international passengers and also moved about 73,000 domestic passengers. Also, about 1,119 domestic aircraft movement was recorded during this period,” the minister stated.
He also stated that the plan to use local airlines to fly passengers to London from Kaduna was still in place and that the government would commence flights on that route soon.
“We had a couple of issues with the local carrier we want to partner; the aircraft is available, but we need to sort out the issues. I think we were of the belief that everything would be okay and that was why we projected to start by last Monday. However, as soon as we sort out that issue, we will commence the flight,” Sirika added.