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Abuja airport closure: Kaduna airport terminal not ready

A new terminal for the Kaduna airport is still under construction with cables hanging from ceilings less than two months before it is due to become an aviation hub when the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, closes temporarily for runway repairs.

The Federal Government plans to shut the Abuja airport for six weeks from March 8 to repair its runway and divert flights to Kaduna, an airport used primarily for domestic flights, after airlines threatened to stop flying to the capital.

Abuja-bound passengers will have to fly to Kaduna and travel in buses, guarded by security, on a road where kidnappings have taken place in the past few years.

The Kaduna airport handled 12 flights in December 2015, the last month for which the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has figures, compared with 812 that used Abuja.

The government hopes that international carriers will use Kaduna during the closure of the Abuja airport, but the new terminal, in the works for about four years, was still a building site when a Reuters team visited the airport on January 10.

Bricks were stacked throughout what will be the lounges, cables hung from the ceiling and mounds of sand were dotted across the ground. Most of the workers, who numbered around 30, were sat idle outside.

“We will try and fast-track the contractor to deliver the terminal building before the end of February so that we can take it over in March,” the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, told a forum of businesses and aviation industry figures earlier this month.

“Whether that happens or not, we have an alternative,” he said, explaining that the existing terminal would be used.

Sirika said the building could handle up to 500 passengers, although a visual assessment by the Reuters team suggested the capacity might be far lower. The check-in desks have no computers and there is only one security checkpoint.

Airport officials, who did not want to be named, said modifications could be made to the building such as creating an extra entrance, covered by a canopy, to ease the flow of people.

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