South African Airways, Lufthansa and now British Airways say they are suspending Abuja flights until the airport reopens.
British Airways says it will not fly to Kaduna International during the period of repair of the runway at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The airport will close for six weeks, from March 8, to enable repairs while flights for Abuja will reroute to Kaduna airport. But most airlines have refused to fly to Kaduna.
BA country manager Kola Olayinka said its decision to suspend Abuja flights temporarily was in the interest of its customers. "Many factors were considered before this decision was reached,” he said.
“Major ones are concerned about the safety and security of our passengers as well as difficulties around some key operational issues. We are currently evaluating all options for our customers planning to travel at that time and we will be reaching out directly to them for information about their trip.”
Olayinka who commended the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika for the planned repair work added that there are no catering services as well as the adequate technology like the Common User Terminal Equipment, among others in Abuja. Reacting to the development, Secretary of Aviation Roundtable, Group Capt. John Ojikutu rtd said the flight diversion to Kaduna would serve as "windfall" to domestic airlines.
He said, "The domestic airlines need no prompt to know that the exercise is a windfall for those among them that have capacity in terms of fleet, air and ground crew. Those that lack should go source for them through buying, borrowing, hiring or stealing. The exercise provides minimum of 20 extra flights daily to Abuja aside from the normal daily flights."