The majority of the foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have rejected offers by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to relocate their operations into a newly built terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
The new terminal, built by the Federal Government with Chinese loans, was inaugurated in March by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
The Managing Director, FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu, told journalists in Lagos that although some foreign airlines had refused to relocate to the terminal, the agency might be forced to relocate their operations to the place at the appropriate time.
He spoke against the backdrop of reports on the small size of the new terminal’s aprons, which will make it difficult for the foreign carriers’ large jets to be parked there.
Yadudu said, “It is unfortunate that some of them (foreign airlines) said they will not move, but we are not ready to compel them to move. We’ll just keep quiet. You cannot be a FAAN client and dictate to us. When the time comes, they must all move. Those that refused to move to want to paint us in a bad light that we don’t have a good terminal, which is not true.”
Explaining further on the reason FAAN may not compel the foreign carriers to move at the moment, the MD said, “The terminal is open. When you commission a new terminal, you have to do an operational transfer before you can move. We decided to start moving in phases. We didn’t want everyone to move at the same time. If you remember, when Terminal 5 opened in London, it took others about six months because of some teething challenges. It is only here that people complain. There is nowhere in the world that you have a perfect system. No airport operates in isolation from its environment. The aviation industry keeps evolving when the challenges happen and are tackled immediately.”
“The relocation is in phases. No airport system will say you want to relocate to a new terminal and you want to remove everybody, you will crash. So, we sent two airlines and other ones will follow. I told them to move the airlines that operate morning and afternoon flights so that we will decongest the old terminal.”
Foreign carriers including British Airways, Emirates Airlines, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa are yet to relocate their operations to the terminal.
However, Nigerian airline-Air Peace has relocated its operations to the terminal.
Most of the foreign carriers fly wide-body aircraft like the B787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777, B747, and A330.
Several airports in Nigeria have added new terminals recently, including Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and Port Harcourt International Airport. These new terminals were funded by the EXIM Bank of China.