The announcement by the Federal Government of Nigeria, concerning the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, has been met with clamor and anxiety so far. The announcement was made by Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, during a world press conference held in Abuja on Monday, 6th March 2017.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport commonly known as the Abuja airport is often said to be the second busiest airport in Nigeria and is only 40 kilometers away from the center of Abuja City. When compared with other airports in Nigeria, the Abuja airport is generally considered safer because it has recorded only one minor plane crash with no fatalities involved.
Some of the major domestic airlines that have operated in Abuja airport include Arik Air, Dana Airways, Virgin Nigeria, Aero Contractors and Afrijet Airlines; while the international airlines include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Air France, Bell view, Egypt Air and China Southern Airlines.
Reason for the closure…
According to the federal government, the reason for this closure is to ensure the reconstruction of the runway. Since it’s establishment in 1982, the runway has been in continuous use without any major rehabilitation. This does not conform to the industry standards of 20 years before total reconstruction. Therefore, this move is long overdue.
How long is the Closure?
The Abuja airport closure will last for 6 weeks and will begin on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, by 12 am. It is hoped that regular flight operation will commence at the Abuja airport on 19th April 2017.
The recommended alternative is Kaduna airport, which is about 188 kilometers away. During the Abuja airport closure, Abuja-bound passengers will be required to fly to Kaduna. From Kaduna, they can head towards the capital by another means of transportation. The Kaduna airport, which was also opened in 1982, is around 22 kilometers Northwest of Kaduna city.
Several people have found the decision of the Federal Government to be quite worrisome. In fact, it appears that international airlines are not in support of this decision. According to figures from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), for December 2015, the Kaduna airport is said to have handled just 12 flights during that month; A striking difference when compared with Abuja airport which handled 812 flights during that period.
For those of you who haven’t been to Kaduna or used Kaduna Airport, you may worry about the provision of Kaduna airport as an alternative for the Abuja airport but you don’t have to worry anymore. To cope with the Abuja airport closure and plan your flights properly, there are some things you need to know including how to get to Kaduna from Abuja and vice versa, cost of transportation and how long each means of transportation will take. You also need information on hotels close to the airport in case a delayed flight will require you to spend a night in Kaduna.
How to get to Kaduna from Abuja and vice versa?
There are 2 options for you if you are coming from Abuja, but 3 if you are coming from elsewhere. The two options are to travel by bus/car or by train. The third is by aeroplane if you are coming from Lagos, Port Harcourt or Calabar and so on. You can book flight tickets online.
What will it cost?
By train, it costs about N1, 050 (initially N600) for economy passengers and N1500 (initially N900) for VIP passengers to travel from Abuja to Kaduna. The increase is as a result of the Federal government’s desire to maintain the facility. The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, claims that it costs N50 million per month to run the train, thereby justifying the increase. It is further said that there will be the importation of more coaches by September to lessen the overcrowding that occurs via this route.
The other option is to travel by road. By bus, its costs N800 per person to travel from Kaduna to Abuja and vice versa. There are also cars available for private hire, or you may find a friend to drive you. You don’t have to bother much about the safety of the road; This is because the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has announced that there will be police officers on every 2.5 kilometres covered on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway. He added that there will be a specialized unit of the police; the counter-terrorism department, dog sniffers and helicopter patrol on all routes leading to the airport. In fact, there will be about 500 police trucks to secure the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway during the Abuja airport closure. Therefore, your safety is guaranteed.
While leaving the airport, you are likely going to be given a form, which contains three options: “I need a train, I need bus and I have a private arrangement.” There will be staff to direct you based on your choice.
How long will it take?…
By bus/car, the journey will take about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours while by train it will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes.
Hotels close to Kaduna airport…
If there is any reason for you to spend a night or more in Kaduna (probably because of a delayed flight), Hotels Ng can help you to get hotels close to Kaduna Airport. Some of these hotels are:
Airlines flying to Kaduna…
Several domestic airlines have agreed to fly to Kaduna, amongst which are Dana Air, Med-view and Arik Air.
This airline’s time schedule includes flights for 7.02am, 10.53, 13.23pm to 18.25pm. There will be one flight each from Uyo and Port Harcourt to Kaduna strictly based on its scheduled departure time. Another is Med-View with five daily flights to Kaduna from Lagos.
All Med-View Airline flights to Maiduguri and Yola will be routed through Kaduna airport. Their departure and arrival time remain the same as well as flights originating from Lagos.
Arik will also run flights to Kaduna. In fact, the airline has announced a special promotional fare that enables passengers to buy a one-way ticket to any destination in Nigeria from N16, 000 particularly for those on the Kaduna route. It will operate three daily flights between Kaduna and Lagos and one daily flight between Kaduna and Accra, Ghana during this period of Abuja airport closure.
So far, the only international airline that has agreed to fly to Kaduna is Ethiopian Airlines.
For those of you who need updates on the Abuja airport closure, there is currently a website for it: www.abujaairportclosure.info. The website was launched by the government to communicate necessary information about the Abuja airport closure to the public.
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