ABUJA Jan 3 Nigeria plans to close the airport
in the capital Abuja for six weeks from 8 March to repair its
runway, the aviation ministry said on Tuesday, pushing the move
back later than previously scheduled.
The decision to shut the airport and divert Abuja-bound
flights to Kaduna, an airport used primarily for domestic
flights about 160 km (100 miles) to the north, was taken after
airlines threatened to stop flying to the capital.
The government had said the six week closure would begin in
February. But a statement issued on Tuesday, which said the
aviation minister would discuss the matter with stakeholders,
said the "proposed closure" was set to start on 8 March.
No reason was given for the change of date.
The meeting with aviation industry figures, on Thursday, is
to brief them on efforts being made to ensure that the use of
Kaduna's airport is "seamless and hitch-free" said aviation
ministry spokesman James Odaudu.
Analysts have said that the temporary closure of Abuja
airport, the country's second busiest after the commercial
capital Lagos, will have a negative impact on Africa's biggest
economy, which fell into recession in 2016 for the first time in
Passengers travelling to Abuja will have to fly to Kaduna
and travel in bus shuttles, guarded by security provided by the
government, to the capital on a pot-holed road where kidnappings
have taken place in the last few years.
Kaduna's international airport handled 12 flights in
December 2015, the last month for which Nigeria's airports
authority has figures, compared with 812 that used Abuja
The government has said German company Julius Berger will
carry out repairs on Abuja's damaged runway.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram)