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40 years after, Lagos Airport’s new terminal changes travel experience

Six months after its commissioning, the new terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos is set to witness an increase in activities…

Six months after its commissioning, the new terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos is set to witness an increase in activities with the planned relocation of five airlines to the ultra-modern, state-of-the-art facility built to enhance passenger facilitation at the nation’s busiest aerodrome, Daily Trust reports.

President Muhammadu Buhari in March this year, commissioned terminal two of MMIA, 40 years after the old terminal was built, suffering tear and wear and inflicting inconvenience on passengers.

Being the busiest airport in the country, MMIA is likely the first port of call for a first-time visitor who flew into Nigeria. But the depreciation in the old terminal has seen basic facilities like the sanitary system, cooling system and carousels for baggage handling, among others breaking down intermittently.

From time to time, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has spent millions repairing and fixing the dilapidated facilities.

But the commissioning of the new terminal is set to change the narrative among Nigerian travelers and visitors alike.

This was why the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is the chief information officer and image maker of the federal government, undertook a facility tour of Terminal 2, which he described as a testament to the Buhari administration’s unprecedented infrastructure development across the country.

The minister, who was received by the Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, and Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, was taken round the check-in area; passport control; screening machines; 22-room hotel; boarding gates; boarding areas; praying area for Muslims and Christians; port health screening; baggage claim area and arrival concourse by the terminal manager, Mrs Ojali Ausa.

At the end of the tour, Lai Mohammed said, “This edifice – and the others like it – is a testament to the commitment of the Buhari administration to the unprecedented infrastructure development covering roads, bridges, rail, water dams, seaports, etc.

“No administration in the history of Nigeria has done this much, especially at a time of paucity of resources,” he said.

He said the tour of the new terminal was an exciting experience, adding that the facilities at the airport were comparable to those that could be found anywhere in the world.

“The terminal, which has state-of-the art facilities and fittings, has the capacity to process 14 million passengers per annum. It has 60 check-in counters, five baggage claim belts, 16 departure desks and 28 arrival desks.”

In addition, it has eight security screening points and seven passenger boarding bridges, the minister said.

“There is a whole new experience in terms of aesthetics, comfort, free trolley services, hotel and premium lounges, friendly customer service, and free wifi,” he also stated.

In addition, Terminal 2 of the airport was not built to replace Terminal 1 but to complement it, he stated.

“That’s why we were told that you could check in at one terminal and board at the other. So there is a handshake between the two terminals.

“It was the first terminal added to the original terminal since it was built some 40 years ago,” Lai said.

But since it was commissioned, only Air Peace has started operating from the terminal while other airlines are yet to move in due to the size of the ramp which, as the FAAN MD explained, was undergoing expansion while five more airlines are set to relocate this week.

According to the minister, as more airlines relocate to the terminal, it will begin to bubble and record more activities.

The minister said, “On the air bridge ramp and the interface, one of the things the terminal manager told us is that not only is this airport in use but you can actually board your flights and check-in here.

“You can arrive in one terminal and pick up your luggage in another terminal, and this has taken care of the issue of interface between the two terminals.

“I was here 40 years ago when the first terminal was commissioned. There is a time between the commissioning of an airport and when the airport becomes operational. You know, aviation is unforgiving of any mistake.

“So we need to test-run and be extremely certain that every piece of equipment is working optimally. The beauty of it is that this airport has become operational. You can come here and continue to various parts of the world. When the old airport was commissioned, it took quite a while for it to become operational.

“The new international terminal is not to replace the old one but to complement it. It is gradually, and very soon, this airport will be very busy. You can see that terminals are not used only by airlines. We have restaurant operators, banks, foreign exchange operators etc and you have to screen people over and over again before it becomes operational.”

Speaking on the expansion, the FAAN MD said, “We will rather take our time than to start on the wrong footing and that does not mean nothing is being done. From the 1st of September, five more airlines are scheduled to start operations in the new international terminal. A lot of integration has to be done.

“More than eight airlines showed interest, but five are starting from the 1st of September from the international terminal. There is a connecting area with the old terminal where passengers are moved from one terminal to the other.”