The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has begun moves to decongest airlines and passenger traffic at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.
Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, confirmed the development while briefing newsmen on Sunday in Lagos.
Yakubu said FAAN had started encouraging air travellers and airlines to divert some of their traffic to airports outside Lagos, particularly the newly constructed terminals.
According to her, there is need to put the newly inaugurated terminals at the Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa, Rivers and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja to maximum use.
“It is necessary to divert traffic from Lagos to other airports within the country. However, Lagos will remain the hub of airports in Nigeria.
“Rather than the entire airlines focusing their attention on Lagos airport, they could also make use of the state-of-the-art facilities in other aerodromes across the country.
“The Turkish Airlines and Emirates will soon commence direct flight to their bases (Istanbul and Dubai) from the new Port Harcourt International Airport terminal.
“We want to appeal to members of the public that they don’t have to come from Port Harcourt or any part of the Eastern state to fly out of the country.
“They can easily go to Port Harcourt to fly. Also, as you know, Abuja airport new terminal too has opened and Emirates will be starting from the terminal from June.
“We are expecting all the international airlines to start operating also from Abuja airport,’’ Yakubu said.
She disclosed that Air Cote d’Ivoire would soon commence direct flight from Abuja to its base in Abidjan as part of its expansion programme.
Apart from the foreign airlines, Yakubu emphasised that Nigerian carrier, Air Peace would also commence direct flight operations to Accra from Abuja.
She added that the carrier had also planned to flag off its Dubai operations from the Port Harcourt Airport in April.
Yakubu said that the newly inaugurated Abuja airport had an annual capacity of 15 million passengers, while Port Harcourt had an annual capacity of five million passengers.
She disclosed that the Kano airport, with another five million annual capacity, would come on stream in the next two months, adding that the new terminal at the Lagos airport would also be inaugurated soon.
Yakubu said: “Lagos airport did not take off early because of the issue of citing of the new terminal.
“Where we have it now is not the original site; it has come up with a lot of issues – connectivity to the airside, the runway and others.
“But we are assuring our passengers that once Kano is inaugurated, the next airport will be Lagos,” Yakubu said.