By G9ija

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.

Sani Mahmud, FAAN’s regional general manager, north central, gave this ultimatum on Wednesday when Emirates Airlines commenced flight operations at the new terminal.

Mahmud said that the deadline given in order to enable the authority to carry out repairs and renovations on the old terminal where foreign airlines had been operating.

The FAAN official said Emirates was the fifth airline 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,” he said,

“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 December 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.

Ibrahim Idris, the former inspector general of police was one of the passengers on board the Emirates flight.

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.”

Asky Airlines was the first to start flight operations at the terminal on January 6.

The remaining airlines that are yet to relocate their operations include British Airways, Lufthansa, Turkish, Air France, African World Airline, Egypt, Rwanda Air, Arik and Medview that suspended operations at present.