Nigeria's second busiest airport Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport will be closed for six weeks next month for repairs, putting airlines at risk of a revenue cut.
- The airport is located in the capital
Abuja and 70% of domestic passenger traffic pass through this
airport and the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos. The domestic
traffic is evenly split between both airports, but the Abuja
airport's share of international passenger traffic is much
lower at 18%.1
- While runway repairs go on, authorities say scheduled flights to the Abuja airport will instead go to the airport in northern city Kaduna (200km away), which saw some unrest in 2016 including clashes between Shi'a Muslims and security forces.
- Foreign airlines have especially been cautious about flying to the north because of the insecurity in parts of the region, and they've since been using the Abuja airport to serve their customers going that way. Now there are speculations that they may temporarily limit flights to the Lagos airport until the Abuja airport is reopened.
- The Kaduna airport was picked as an alternative because it's the best one closest to Abuja and because the city's road links to Abuja are relatively better. A new railway linking both cities was also opened last year.
- The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has said it disapproves of the six-week closure, saying the government should have considered conducting the repairs at night instead of shutting down outright.
Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika has met airlines and other stakeholders to address disapprovals, but local airlines will be most affected by the repair plans given the Abuja airport accounts for more than a third of their business. It won't help that they're currently dealing with aviation fuel shortages and other rising costs due to the wider economic problems in the country.
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