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Rowdiness at Lagos airport over holiday travels

There was rowdiness and chaos at the Murtala Muhammad Airport (MMA), Lagos yesterday as more passengers stormed the domestic terminal for their holiday travels. Findings…

There was rowdiness and chaos at the Murtala Muhammad Airport (MMA), Lagos yesterday as more passengers stormed the domestic terminal for their holiday travels.

Findings by Daily Trust on Wednesday indicated that the passenger rush triggered the collapse of the baggage system at the MMA2 terminal.

It was learnt that both the MMA two private terminals operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) witnessed increased passengers. 

There were also delays in passenger facilitation at the airport while other passengers were stranded at other airports.

Apart from the baggage systems challenges, space for parking aircraft and getting it out is also an issue at the terminal, it was learnt.

At the General Aviation Terminal One managed by FAAN, only one screening machine is said to be functional and in use as officials manning the machines are said to be exhausted.

The GAT is where most of the Air Peace flights take off while Arik Air, Green Africa and Overland also operate from the terminal.

Both the FAAN and the MMA2 management had earlier in the week expressed readiness to accommodate the passenger surge during the yuletide festivities.

But findings by Daily Trust yesterday indicated that many passengers spent hours, especially in the morning queuing to get their boarding passes.

One of the travellers, who identified himself simply as Ikechukwu in a chat with our correspondent, called for an upgrade of infrastructure at the domestic airports to cope with the passenger surge.

An official at the MMA2 said what happened was a mere passenger surge usually experienced during the yuletide season even as many airlines were overbooked. 

“Yes, there was a minor issue with the conveyor belt at the MMA2 which was immediately fixed and as of 2pm, the terminal has processed over 50 flights. 

“What we are witnessing is the surge in passengers and many more people are flying now because of the insecurity on the road.”

Spokesman of FAAN, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu said the operation at the domestic terminal has been smooth all through, insisting that all the screening machines are serviceable. 

“Operations at GAT remain cool and calm, no breakdown in any of the operational equipment here in GAT,” she said.

Daily Trust reports that some stakeholders have advocated for the introduction of a slot system to reduce the rowdiness not only at the airport terminals but the airside. 

An aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu commenting on the development said, “The terminals are taking or pressurised more than they can ordinarily accommodate.”

Meanwhile, some passengers have called on airlines to bring down the cost of tickets. They spoke amidst skyrocketing airfares with a 45-minute flight costing over N60,000.

As of the time of filing this report, the Lagos-Owerri flight on Arik Air for Thursday and Friday is N66,310. The same route goes for 27,642 or N33,514 on a normal day.

Lagos to Port Harcourt on Ibom Air for Thursday (today) is about N71,000 compared to N27,000 and N31,000 without the rush.