By G9ija

In a bid to reduce the congestion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) says it is encouraging international airlines to divert some of their traffic to airports outside Lagos, especially the newly-constructed terminals in Abuja and Port Harcourt.

A spokeswoman for FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, stated this over the weekend at the agency’s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos in an interview with aviation journalists.

Yakubu said that the diversion of traffic from Lagos would help in putting the newly-commissioned terminals in Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omegwa and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja to maximum use.

To this end, she said Turkish Airlines and Emirates have indicated their readiness to commence scheduled flight operations from PHIA and NAIA, respectively from June 2019, while Air Peace would also begin a direct flight to Dubai, UAE from PHIA as from April this year.

Yakubu explained that it was necessary to divert traffic from Lagos to other airports within the country, but noted that Lagos would remain the hub of airports in Nigeria.

She explained that rather than the entire airlines focus their attention on Lagos airport, they could also make use of the state-of-the-art facilities in other aerodromes across the country, stressing that FAAN was determined to improve flying experience of air travelers within Nigeria.

According to her, Turkish Airlines would commence direct flight from its base in PHIA from June 25, while Emirates would increase its four weekly flights to daily to Dubai Airport from NAIA from June 1, 2019.

Already, she said that Cronos Air operates three weekly frequencies; Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays from PHIA, while Lufthansa Airlines flies four times weekly: Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from the same airport.

Also, Air France operates five weekly flights: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, stressing that the Turkish flights would be operating four times weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, starting from June 25, 2019, from the same airport.

Apart from the foreign airlines, she emphasised that Air Peace would also commence direct flight operations to Accra from Abuja, while scheduled flights between Port Harcourt and Dubai operations of the airline would commence in April this year.

Besides, Yakubu explained that Air Cote d’Ivoire would commence direct flight from Abuja to its base in Abidjan soon.

She said: Turkish Air and Emirates would soon commence direct flight to their bases from the new Port Harcourt International Airport terminal. We want to appeal to members of the public that they don’t have to come from Port Harcourt or any part of the Eastern state to fly out of the country.

They can easily go to Port Harcourt to fly. Also, as you know, Abuja Airport new terminal too, has opened and Emirates would be starting from the terminal from June. We are expecting all the international airlines to start operating also from Abuja Airport.

We want to encourage our passengers that they don’t all have to come to Lagos even though we know Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of the country and the airport is the hub, but passengers can travel from Abuja and Port Harcourt airports to connect to their destinations so that we can decongest Lagos airport. Turkish will soon commence a direct flight from Port Harcourt to Turkey, while Emirates will also do so to Dubai.