Abuja Airport Closure- Cabmen and Airlines lament

Some airlines and cab operators have anticipated losses as the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, is set be shut tonight for its runway repairs, the The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Abdullahi Saroke, Station Manager, Azman Airlines, told NAN that 65 per cent of flights operated from Abuja airport would likely to be cut off at Kaduna resulting in losses.

Saroke explained that many lucrative routes like Abuja-Lagos,Abuja-Enugu, Abuja-Kano and many others would be affected as many passengers might decide to travel by road to those destination.

He expressed fear that airlines might run at loss at Kaduna, explaining that airlines take load factor into consideration before flying a particular route.
According to him, if you fly aircraft with 124 and 110 passengers’ seats with less than 85 or 90 passengers, you are running at a loss.

“From the airlines’ perspective, what I foresee will happen is that we are going to go to Kaduna but not all routes will be viable.

“Then those routes that we think will be viable from Kaduna, if you operated it and you are at lost, I am sure with no time people will just shut down their operation unless something is done.

“For these reasons, some airlines may not want to go to Kaduna except those routes that are far like Port Harcourt and Lagos but all these routes that are close to Abuja may decide to stay away.

“Statistics has shown that 65 per cent of domestic flights happened between Abuja and Lagos and this route is going to be shut down by midnight on March 8.

“What that means is that 65 per cent of this operation has been cut off remaining 35 per cent and there are so many routes you cannot operate from Kaduna and they are lucrative routes.

“Those routes are Abuja-Asaba, Abuja-Owerri, Abuja-Warri, Abuja-Port Harcourt, Abuja-Enugu and Abuja-Kano,’’ he said.

On the free transportation arrangement by the government, Saroke advised that there should be supporting vehicles in the event of breakdown or tire burst since flights are time bound.

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He also advised the government to take into consideration the fact that airlines would not be responsible for the passengers that miss their flight since it is the government that handles their movement.

“In the event that the passengers miss their flight, who pay their compensation and who takes care of their accommodation if need be since it is the government that is responsible for that?

“Those are the key areas the government did not look at because in case you want to assist somebody and the assistance failed, are you going to compensate the passengers,’’ he queried.

Also, Aliyu Abdullazeez-Aliyu, Chairman, Airport Car Hires Association (ACHA), Abuja Chapter, said his members would lose up to N300 million during the period.

Abdullazeez-Aliyu said that a larger number of the members would be out of job during the six weeks period, adding only few of their members would join those at Kaduna.

He added that the association would deploy between 150 to 200 car hire members to Kaduna airport to complement those operating there.
According to him, it is our Kaduna branch that is absorbing some of them from Abuja because both Abuja and Kaduna belong to one national body.

“Quantitatively, we stand to lose about N300 million to N500 million within these six weeks because our members make millions of naira on daily basis here.

“Our operation will be at Kaduna within this period because of those that will prefer to travel privately but we don’t have provision in the city centre.

“There will be processing of passengers in Abuja but that will be exclusively government arrangement because they are providing free buses to convey them to Kaduna,’’ he said.

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