[Kaduna]–Some foreign airlines have reconsidered their decisions to boycott Kaduna International Airport as alternative aerodrome pending the renovation of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja, and have decided to follow the steps of Ethiopian Airlines and start operations in the airport.
The Guardian learnt that following an inspection of the refurbished Kaduna airport, carriers like Lufthansa have now expressed their intention to fly to Kaduna.
THE PAGE reported that Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dream Liner, had earlier been welcomed to a ceremonial water shower on Wednesday in Kaduna, to flag off the beginning of Abuja-bound flights diversion and closure of Abuja airport.
Ethiopian Airlines, which is the largest in Africa, was the first foreign airline that accepted to fly to Kaduna at a time other foreign carriers rejected the option, citing security and logistic concerns.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while welcoming Ethiopian Airlines and rounding off inspection of the new terminal, said: “I told Lufthansa in Frankfurt and British Airways that we are in the time of need but not stupid to close down Abuja and open Kaduna. It borders on safety.
“My disappointment was that none of them came to inspect the Kaduna airport to see what we have or don’t have. If they had done so, I would have provided for them what they need.
“Ethiopian Airlines are here today because they came here to inspect. They said, well, your fire cover is Category 7, you need to upgrade to Category 9. They said also your tower is obstructed where it is, is not fair enough, bring in the mobile tower. And I said done, to prove to them that we are ready to please back them.”
Sirika, however, disclosed that the foreign airlines began to have a change of mind after their visitation to the airport on March 1, when more improvements have been added to the airport.
“They visited Kaduna and saw the amount of work done. They saw the airfield lighting, runway markings and other things we have done. They saw the general ambiance of the security.
“They saw all these and said they would reconsider, sending reports to their headquarters. Most of them have called us that they have considered. One of the airlines (Lufthansa) has said that they will begin next week,” he said.
Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, said with the level of investment already deployed to Kaduna airport, it is better for airlines to operate from the airport.
In a recent development, the House of Representatives yesterday called on the federal government to install Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) in all federal airports in the country, claiming that the instrument would help airlines and airports to continue operations in low visibility conditions such as heavy rain, very low cloud or harmattan haze and at night.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg