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Airlines Oppose Abuja Airport Closure

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  • Airlines Oppose Abuja Airport Closure

The Federal Government on Thursday explained to aviation stakeholders why the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja must be shut for six weeks beginning from March 8 in order to carry out repairs on its runway and taxi ways.

But despite the explanation made by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, at a stakeholders’ meeting, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, an umbrella body for carriers in the country, opposed the move by the government to shut the NAIA.

The Federal Government had earlier stated that during the closure of the Abuja airport, passenger traffic and flight activities would be diverted to the Kaduna International Airport for the six-week period, a development that would lead to the screening of air travellers twice, in Abuja and Kaduna.

In a bid to get the inputs of stakeholders, the Federal Government convened an industry-wide meeting on Thursday, which had in attendance different security agencies’ officials, representatives of foreign embassies in Nigeria, international airline operators and their domestic counterparts, legislators, the governments of Kaduna, Kwara and Niger states, as well as other participants.

However, in its submission after an elaborate presentation by the minister, the AON declared that it was in support of the rehabilitation of the NAIA runway, but stressed that the facility should be repaired at night without necessarily shutting down the airport completely for six weeks.

Speaking on behalf of the airline operators, the Chairman, AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison, argued that the Kaduna airport might not be ready to carry the volume of traffic that hits Abuja on a daily basis, among other issues.

He said, “We are in total support of the rehabilitation of the Abuja runway, which is long overdue and is becoming a safety issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. But the AON, on the other side, is of the view that shutting the runway is not the best for now.

“We believe that the runway can be repaired at night, like what is done in other countries. A case study is the Gatwick Airport, which handles 400,000 passengers annually, far higher than what Abuja handles. Or alternatively, the runway in Abuja is 3,900 metres and if you split it into two, you will get roughly 2,000 metres.”

Meggison added, “With 2,000 metres of runway, they can fix one side for three or four weeks and come back to the other side. With 2,000 metres of runway, a 737 aircraft can comfortably get into it for a one-hour flight; and a DRJ, Dash-8 and domestic carriers can come in. International carriers can go to Lagos and Kano, and we distribute for them, like what is done anywhere in the world.”

“We also believe that Kaduna may not be too ready for this and for the volume of passengers that will be coming through that airport.”

In response to the AON’s position, the minister said the government would have worked at night on the Abuja airport if the level of dilapidation of the facility was just on the surface of the runway and taxi ways.

Sirika said, “But right now, all the four-level structures on that runway are completely gone. It is completely dilapidated. What was done in Gatwick was done for six months, but we are doing six weeks of closure to be able to attend to the critical parts of that runway.

“This working at night without disruption of flights is what we have been doing for 14 years on that runway and we have been achieving the same result. To stop spending billions and getting the same result, we engaged a wide range of engineers, who advised that it be closed and a complete and thorough job be done on the runway.”

The minister explained that the lifespan of the Abuja runway had been exceeded by 14 years without adequate maintenance as opposed to that of the Gatwick Airport, which receives constant maintenance.

He stressed that the Abuja runway might be forced to shut down on its own, as was the case of the Port Harcourt airport runway some years ago, a development that grounded flight activities in the state for two and half years.

On logistics being put in place for travellers to use the Kaduna airport, Sirika said N1.1bn had been approved by the Federal Government for its rehabilitation and that work on the facility would be completed before March 8.

He said Abuja passengers would board free buses to and from the Kaduna airport, adding that security would be provided by aviation security personnel, police, Ministry of Defence, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Kaduna State Government.

Sirika explained that military and police officers would be stationed on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway during the six-week period, and that there would be train and helicopter services for passengers who could afford them.

On claims that the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria would close its services during the period, the minister stated this was a lie, adding that he had met with the personnel of the high commission and they had refuted the allegation.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Aliko Dangote Remains Africa’s Richest Man With $12.1 Billion Net Worth -Forbes

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Aliko Dangote Remains Africa’s Richest Man With $12.1 Billion Net Worth -Forbes

Nigerian industrialist, Aliko Dangote, is Africa’s richest person for the tenth year in a row.

In the Forbes Africa latest billionaires list, Dangote’s total net worth stood at $12.1 billion, a $2 billion increment when compared to last year. Thanks to the 30 percent increase in the price of Dangote Cement share.

Nassef Sawiris of Egypt followed Dangote with $8.5 billion net worth with the majority of his investments coming from construction and other investments.

In third place was Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa with an $8 billion total net worth.

Mike Adenuga and Abdulsamad Rabio, the two Nigerians, came fifth and sixth with $6.3 billion and $5.5 billion net worth, respectively.Forbes Africa's billionaires list

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Portland Paints, Chemical and Allied Products Plc Agreed to Merge

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Portland Paints, Chemical and Allied Products Plc Agreed to Merge

Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc and Chemical and Allied Products Plc have agreed to merge, according to the latest statement from both companies.

In a statement released through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Board of Directors of CAP said we are “pleased to inform you that following discussions and negotiations, the Boards of CAP and Portland Paints have reached an agreement to undertake a merger between both entities (the “Merger” or the “Proposed Merger”).

Accordingly, we “hereby present to you the terms and benefits of the Proposed Merger for your consideration and seek your support and approval to effect the Proposed Merger.

“The Proposed Merger presents a compelling opportunity to create significant value for shareholders of CAP and achieve the company’s strategic growth objectives as a larger company with a broader product portfolio, more corporate owned brands and diversified revenues.

“The resultant entity is also expected to benefit from enhanced distribution capabilities in addition to economies of scale and operational efficiencies.”

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Tony Elumelu Acquires Shell, Total, ENI Stakes in OML 17

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Tony Elumelu Acquires Shell, Total, ENI Stakes in OML 17

Tony Elumelu owned Heir Holdings Limited and its related company Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc on Friday announced it has completed the purchase of 45 percent stake in Oil Mining Lease (OML 17) through TNOG Oil and Gas Limited.

The acquisition includes all assets of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (30 Percent), Total E&P Nigeria Ltd (10 percent) and ENI (five percent) — in the lease.

It was further stated that TNOG Oil and Gas Limited will also have the sole right to operate OML 17.

The field presently has a production capacity of 27,000 barrels per day. Also, there are estimated 2P reserves (proven and probable) of 1.2 billion barrels and an additional one billion barrels in possible reserves — all of oil equivalent.

A consortium of global and regional banks and investors provided a financing component of $1.1 billion for the largest oil and gas financing in Africa in over a decade.

In a statement released on Friday, Shell said the completion was after all the necessary approvals have were received from authorities.

“A total of $453m was paid at completion with the balance to be paid over an agreed period. SPDC will retain its interest in the Port Harcourt Industrial and Residential Areas, which fall within the lease area,” the SPDC said.

Speaking after the completion of the deal, Elumelu said “We have a very clear vision: creating Africa’s first integrated energy multinational, a global quality business, uniquely focused on Africa and Africa’s energy needs. The acquisition of such a high-quality asset, with significant potential for further growth, is a strong statement of our confidence in Nigeria, the Nigerian oil and gas sector and a tribute to the extremely high-quality management team that we have assembled.

“As a Nigerian, and more particularly an indigene of the Niger Delta region, I understand well our responsibilities that come with stewardship of the asset, our engagement with communities and the strategic importance of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. We see significant benefits from integrating our production, with our ability to power Nigeria, through Transcorp, and deliver value across the energy value chain.

“I would like to thank Shell, Total and ENI, for the professionalism of the process, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, and the NNPC for the confidence they have placed in us.”

Tony Elumelu is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, Transcorp and United Bank for Africa Plc.

Also, read Transcorp Plc Acquires FGN’s 100% Equity in Afam Power for N105 Billion

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