The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has commenced expansion of the domestic terminal waiting lounge at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
Passengers using the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) domestic Terminal 1 in Lagos known as the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) may soon heave a sigh of relief following the expansion of the terminal which has since commenced by the federal government.
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FAAN had earlier notified stakeholders of the planned expansion in January, this year with the temporary relocation of the protocol/VIP lounge.
Daily Trust reports that with the increasing passengers and airlines operating from the terminal, the space has become condensed and inadequate. Many passengers have complained about waiting in crowded areas, especially for morning flights. This is also one of the reasons for flight delays as airlines struggle to cope with the little available capacity.
While explaining the reasons for flight delays recently, the chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, said, “If there is a 6:30am flight and over 1,000 passengers are queuing up to pass through one scanner, there is bound to be a delay.”
Daily Trust further reports that no fewer than four airlines operate from the terminal, including Arik Air, Overland, Green Africa and Air Peace.
Within the terminal, there are two wings – the Alpha and the Zulu. Our correspondent reports that the expansion covers the Zulu wing in order to increase the capacity from the present 500 to 1,054-passenger capacity.
It was learnt that when completed, it would make the terminal the largest domestic airport terminal in the country, accommodating a bigger VIP/protocol lounge and providing ample space for passenger comfort and facilitation.
The general manager, project, FAAN, and also project coordinator, GAT Lagos airport, Engr Yemi Aiyeleso, who spoke with our correspondent on the project, said the expansion would be 100 per cent.
He said, “Presently, the VIP is a bungalow building and we intend to expand it to a two-storey building. Also, we intend to have expanded protocols at the terminal so that if the capacity of the users is high, other passengers can go to any of the storey buildings. We are going to have escalators that will take people from one level to the other and they are all interconnected. So, from one terminal, you can easily get to the other.
“Like I said earlier, the inadequate capacity has compelled some of the airlines to move their operations to the other available terminal within the airport. We hope that some of our clients who hitherto moved can come back.”
According to him, the move would boost the revenue generation of FAAN as more airlines which hitherto left the terminal because of space constraint would return.
Also speaking, the terminal manager, GAT, Lagos airport, Mr Adekunle Aderibigbe, said, “One of the major reasons for the terminal expansion is to create more comfort for the travelling public. When the FAAN management under Capt Rabiu Yadudu came on board, the management discovered that the Zulu Hall was too small to accommodate the influx of passengers to the terminal.
“The MD on inspection at times will see some of the passengers standing, while some of the nursing mothers will be seen carrying their babies in their hands when the facility is stretched at the peak period. So, the management felt it was necessary to increase the ambiance for the traveling public and other users of our facilities, which we have commenced now.”
He confirmed that the expansion started a few weeks ago, adding that, “When the project is completed, this terminal is going to be the largest domestic terminal airport in Nigeria with the sitting arrangement and some other facilities that will come onboard.”
Aviation analyst, Olumide Ohunayo, in a chat with our correspondent, noted that flight delays would be reduced by expanding the capacity of the terminal to process passengers.
He said, “It is a good move for FAAN to plan concerning the expansion in domestic air transport as more airlines are coming in. There is discomfort, delays and rescheduling of flights due to capacity at the local wing. I think it is a good move for FAAN; they need to expand the waiting lounge to cope with the expansion and bring comfort to passengers. This will further reduce the anxiety about the early morning flight delays.”
Some of the passengers who spoke with our correspondent welcomed the initiative and urged the authorities concerned to fast-track the project for their ease and comfort.