The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has commenced moves to decongest the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), the busiest airport in Nigeria.
To this end, the authority has finalized arrangements with some foreign airlines to divert flights to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa, Rivers State.
The two airports currently boast of brand new terminals which were commissioned late last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
They were among the Chinese funded four airport terminals with the other two in Lagos and Kano.
This is just as it was gathered that the Kano new terminal may be ready in the next two months.
Following congestion in Lagos, it was learnt that FAAN had engaged relentlessly with airlines with a view to putting the new terminals into adequate use and decongesting the commercial city.
This engagement has germinated with Turkish Airlines and Emirates indicating interest to commence scheduled flight operations from PHIA and NAIA, respectively from June.
Also, Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest domestic carrier in terms of fleet size, would also begin direct flight to Dubai from PHIA as from April this year barring any last minute change.
General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu told newsmen at the Lagos Airport that it was necessary that airlines shifted their attention from Lagos Airport even though she said Lagos would still remain the hub.
She disclosed that Turkish Airlines would commence direct flight from its base in Istanbul to PHIA from June 25, while Emirates would increase its four weekly flights to daily to Dubai Airport from Abuja from June 1.
Already, she hinted that Cronos Air operates three weekly frequencies from PHIA, while Lufthansa Airlines flies four times weekly from the same airport.
Also, Air France operates five weekly flights; Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, stressing that the Turkish flights would be operated four times weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, starting from June 25, 2019 from the same airport.
She said, “We want to encourage our passengers that they don’t all have to come to Lagos even though we know Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of the country and the airport is the hub, but passengers can travel from Abuja and Port Harcourt airports to connect to their destinations so that we can decongest Lagos airport. Turkish will soon commence a direct flight from Port Harcourt to Turkey, while Emirates will also do so to Dubai.”
It would be recalled that the newly commissioned Abuja Airport has an annual capacity of 15 million passengers, while Port Harcourt has annual capacity of five million passengers.
She further informed that Kano Airport with five-million passenger capacity would come on stream in the next two months, adding that the new terminal at Lagos airport would also be commissioned “soon.”