Barring any change of plan, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) old terminal in Lagos will be shut in Lagos by October 1, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, has said.
He has equally directed all foreign airlines to relocate to the newly constructed terminal while the rehabilitation of the old terminal built 43 years ago would be sorted.
Keyamo stated this on Thursday while briefing newsmen shortly after his tour of the MMIA, his first major assignment in Lagos since his appointment as the minister.
Daily Trust however reports that the old terminal shutdown may temporarily disrupt flight activities unless the apron capacity issue is sorted at the new terminal.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the new terminal in March 2022 but over a year and five months after, less than 10 out of over 22 foreign airlines operating into the country have relocated to the terminal.
This was because the apron where aircraft would park could not accommodate wide-bodied aircraft mostly used by big airlines like British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, among others.
Former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had earlier in 2019 unveiled plans to shut the old terminal, which had badly deteriorated but this was not achieved.
Thursday, the new minister said to create space for the Apron, the government would do what it can to relocate existing Dominion and EAN hangars.
In addition, he stated that the government would also do an emergency procurement to ensure buses were provided to transit international passengers to and from where the wide-body aircraft can park and disembark.
The minister also announced the suspension of airports concession and national carrier projects until he properly briefs President Bola Tinubu.
He said, “The major complaint of Nigerians or foreigners coming into the country has been about the old terminal. That terminal is an eyesore. And we have this new terminal that the Chinese built. Nigerians have been asking why the new terminal is not put into use.
“The simple reason is that I don’t know how this new terminal was designed. It has a provision to take big planes. I don’t know how it happened. I’ve been asking questions about how they would design an international gateway like the Lagos terminal without a provision to take the big planes; it doesn’t have the avio bridges that can link to the big planes.
“That has been the reason why we have not been using this new terminal and that’s why Nigerians have been asking that question. Meanwhile, 60 per cent of the revenue of FAAN comes from the Lagos airport.”
“The Lagos gateway is one of the major gateways into the country. So, what is the solution to this? 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.”
On the controversial national carrier and airport concession carried out by the immediate past administration, Keyamo said, “For now, I have suspended all of that until I brief the president as to what is happening regarding all those noises going on, including the issue of the Nigeria Air.
“I have given them the directive to suspend everything until I brief Mr. President fully. The duty I owe Mr President is honesty; he brought me here and for me to correctly advise him.”