By Sumaila Ogbaje
Abuja – The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has directed all foreign airlines operating at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja to move to the new international terminal on or before March 31.
Mr Sani Mahmud, FAAN’s Regional General Manager, North Central, disclosed this on Wednesday, when Emirates Airlines commenced flight operations at the new terminal.
Mahmud said that the deadline given in order to enable the authority carryout repairs and renovations on the old Terminal C, where foreign airlines had been operating.
He said that Emirates was the fifth international carrier to move operations to the new terminal in addition to Ethiopian Airlines, Air Côte d’Ivoire, Asky and Air Peace.
“(The Emirates Airline) arrived with 176 passengers and 16 cabin crew on board at exactly 3:00 pm with a Boeing 777 aircraft and it is expected to depart with 222 passengers on the same flight at 6:00 pm.
“This is the fifth international airline to relocate operations into the new terminal out of 14.
“We have met with the remaining airlines and gave them up to March 31, to move into the new terminal that was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 20, 2018.
“We believed that they have ample time to have moved into the new terminal and the old terminal is due for renovation.
“As such, we have given them up to 31st of this month to move into the new facility and we will commence renovation of the old terminal.
“We are confident that they will all move because we have given them offices and the connectivity is in place,” he said.
The former Inspector- General of Police (I-G), Ibrahim Idris, who was one of the passengers on board the Emirates flight, said he was impressed with the comfort at the new terminal.
Idris said that the facilities at the new terminal were of world class standard, urging the management of the airport to ensure that the standard was maintained.
“This is obviously a world class airport like you see in Dubai and elsewhere and it is impressive.
“It shows that Nigeria is moving forward because it is a dramatic change and I want to urge FAAN to ensure that this facility is properly and adequately maintained.”
Another passenger, Joyce Mekebo, said she could not believe that Nigerian government could build such a standard airport facility, adding that it was the first time she had tasted comfort in a Nigerian airport.
“When I arrived, I said so the government could do something this amazing all these years and they denied us.
“So for the first time I am landing in Nigeria and I am not sweating, everything seem standard and international and the airport is really beautiful.
“I hope they will maintain the stand because it is one thing to build a structure and it is another thing to maintain it, but let see how it goes in the next couple of years.
“Other than that, this airport is amazing, everything is standard, it is working,” she said.
Another passenger, Alhaji Wahab Adeniran, said that the facility and the quality of services rendered at the new terminal was impressive, saying that he could not differentiate the airport from that of Dubai.
Adeniran said that proper maintenance was key to sustaining the current standard, and that maintenance culture in Nigeria had been an issue.
“Actually, I am just coming from Dubai and when I entered this airport, I thought I was still in Dubai because this kind of facility and the treatment that we got here today is beyond expectations.
“We have seen that the government is actually working, the president is doing pretty well and I hope we sustain this.
“I don’t think I spent more than three minutes at the immigration point because the system is working perfectly.
“What we need now is to sustain this service because Nigeria is very good at starting thing on a good note but sustaining that standard is always a problem.
“We are happy that things are now working in the present day Nigeria,” he said.
Asky Airlines was the first to start flight operations at the terminal on Jan. 6.
The remaining airlines that were yet to relocate their operations include: the British Airways, Lufthansa, Turkish, Air France, African World Airline, Egypt, Rwanda Air, Arik and Medview that suspended operations at present. (NAN)