There was chaos and commotion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos Thursday following the relocation of some flights to the new terminal of the airport.
The relocation from the old terminal and new terminal was as a result of the fire incident recorded at the old terminal on Wednesday which disrupted flight operations for hours.
Sources who spoke with our correspondent said the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had to disconnect electricity supply for all the foreign airlines to move.
Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo had last week directed all the foreign airlines to relocate to the new terminal by October 1.
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Our correspondent reports that many foreign airlines had refused to relocate to the new terminal commissioned in March last year by former President Muhammadu Buhari citing capacity constraints.
But last week, Keyamo said given the deterioration of the old terminal built 43 years ago, there was the urgent need to put the new terminal to use.
“We have said we must use what we have for now. I’m giving the international and all the other airlines until October 1 to move from the old terminal to the new terminal. What we are going to do temporarily is that we are going to shut down the old terminal and sort out all the issues regarding the renovation of the old terminal,” he had said.
Barely three weeks to the deadline, the terminal was partially gutted by fire forcing passengers, air traffic controllers and other airport users to scamper for safety.
Our correspondent however learnt that the fire incident provided a perfect timing for FAAN to relocate all the airlines despite the capacity constraint.
“Many passengers were forced to spend extra hours this morning and a lot of them had to miss their flights,” an official working with one of the agencies at the airport said.
“It is a total nightmare. We had to spread the bags across three belts. The last bag went down the belt at exactly 1 hr 8 minutes after the flight that should have departed. One hour, 37 minutes delay, who pays for this?, said a foreign airline official.
FAAN said it had redirected processing of passengers through the New International Terminal, effective immediately.
It stated that the expedited relocation to the New International Terminal at MMIA “was deemed necessary due to the unfortunate fire incident that occurred at the International Terminal 1 yesterday (Wednesday).
Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Abdullahi Yakubu-Funtua in a statement said, “We intend to make this movement as seamless as possible but appeal to all travellers to please be at the airport early enough to complete their check-in formalities on time in order not to miss their flight.”
Speaking with our correspondent yesterday, Kingsley Nwokoma, President of Association of Foreign Airlines Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), said the rushed movement should not affect airlines’ operations.
He said he would have preferred a situation where the repair of the old terminal would be done in phases so as not to overburden the new terminal.