With three weeks to the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja for repair works, The Airport Manager, Kaduna International Airport, Hajiya Amina Ozi-Salami, said that Kaduna was set to fully function as the designated alternative.
Ozi-Salami stated this while fielding questions from aviation correspondents on site inspection at the airport.
According to her, the runway was in perfect condition while the capacity of the airport had been enhanced to accommodate any type of aircraft.
She disclosed that the lightning of the runway would be completed during the week as well as enhancing the needed manpower to meet the operational needs during the six-week period.
Ozi – Salami said that the fire and safety equipment as well as the navigational equipment of the airport were being upgraded in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard.
“We are going to also boost the manpower by deploying staff from Abuja to Kaduna and we are bringing in 40 fire and safety staff and 57 security staff.
“The management has been making effort to stop villagers around the airport from tresspassing and the state government has started working on the vandalised portion of the perimeter fencing.
“With the synergy among the security agencies, the issue of security has been taken care of,” she said.
Also speaking in an interview, Mr Kazeem Keji, the project engineer to the contractor handling the new terminal building project at Kaduna International Airport, Dari Investment Limited, disclosed that the project was 92 per cent completed and will be ready by the end of February.
Keji said that the target of the contractor was to complete the project before the end of February, adding that the deadline for the completion was Feb. 28.
He explained that the major component of the project had been completed, the fittings, lightnings and the ceiling would be fixed during the week.
“We are not looking at the March 8 date, our deadline for completion is February ending and we are going to finish it.
“We have done the major part of the project, it is only the fittings that we are expecting to be delivered after which the ceiling will be fixed,”
At the fire tender, Alhaji Abubakar Danladi, Head, Fire and Safety, said that three fire tenders were functional, while others were being repaired stressing that the authority would also provided additional new ones to help them to attain “Category 9”.
According to him, they were expecting more support from Abuja with additional manpower.
The Air Traffic Controller on duty, Mr Jatau Nehemiah, disclosed that communication equipment and other navigational aids were being deployed for effective operation during the period.
Nehemiah said that more equipment were also being installed, assuring that the facilities on ground were adequately enough to cater for all kinds of aircraft.
The Federal Government had earlier announced its decision to shut Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for the repair of the failed portion of its runway fromMarch 8.
It had also announced the diversion of all Abuja bound flights during the period to Kaduna airport.
However most foreign carriers have indicated they would not be flying to Kaduna. South African Airways, Lufthansa and lately British Airways said they are suspending Abuja flights pending the reopening of the airport.
BA country manager, Mr. Kola Olayinka said its decision to suspend Abuja flights temporarily was in the interest of its customers.
He said, “I can confirm that BA will not be flying to Kaduna during the planned closure of the Abuja Airport. Many factors were considered before this decision was reached.
Major ones are concerned about the safety and security of our passengers as well as difficulties around some key operational issues. “We are currently evaluating all options for our customers planning to travel at that time and we will be reaching out directly to them for information about their trip”.
South African Airways in a statement by itsSpokesperson Tlali Tlali, regretted any inconvenience to its customers, for refusing to land in Kaduna but assured that all affected customers will be accommodated on their flights to and from Lagos,” says.
“As a network carrier, we considered an option to fly elsewhere in Nigeria during the repair works. However such an option did not prove viable for us given its implications on our network as it would impact on aircraft availability and connectivity for our passengers,” explained Tlali.
Affected customers who already hold tickets and those planning to travel to Nigeria over this time will be re-accommodated on SA060 Johannesburg to Lagos and SA061 Lagos to Johannesburg.
Passengers accepting to travel to Lagos and find their own way to Abuja and vice versa were further advised to do so at their own cost.