All appears to be put in place for the reopening of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja,
The airport had been temporarily shut down on 9th of March, 2017, for six weeks of runway rehabilitation exercise.
The runway has been in use since the airport was built in 1982, and expired about 14 years ago.
After much debates, the rehabilitation exercise was awarded for the sum of N5.8 million and work began on the runway.
As at the 30th of March 2017, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika had said the airport was 57.5%% ready.
While inspecting the final lap of work on the runway on Monday, The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, confirmed that the airport is 96% ready and assured everyone that the airport will be reopened on the 19th of April, 2017.
“This is runway 22 where the work terminates. Remember work started from the other end which is runway 04. You can see that we have finished asphalting and we are at 96 percent completion.” He said.
“The marking of the runway and lighting are going on simultaneously. This is three to four days work and we still have about eight days to go. We are happy and we are on course.” He added.
The minister also talked about a new technology used for the runway which will not retain rain water and another, where glass glide is put in the process of constructing the runway to reinforce it, to give it extra strength and prevent cracks.
“This is the first time any Nigerian runway is being treated with such material and that material is a 50 tonner.” He said.
At the moment, all Abuja-bound traffic is diverted to the recently upgraded Kaduna International Airport (KIA).
A lot of activities have also resumed ahead of next Wednesday reopening of the airport.
Local and foreign airlines have reopened sales and bookings on the Abuja route. Local airlines are already making bookings on the Lagos-Abuja, Sokoto-Abuja-Lagos, Abuja-Kaduna, Port Harcourt-Abuja amongst others for next week flights.
Kingsley Nwokoma, President of foreign airlines association in Nigeria, told reporters that foreign airlines have opened booking for tickets and cargo flights to Abuja.
“After the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Sirika staked his job and seconded by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, some foreign airlines have started selling tickets to Abuja.”
“Everyone believes that the ministers will keep to their words. Even cargo booking has started for Abuja airport. That one is easier because it is not as sensitive as passenger service. Let us see how it plays.” He said.
“In a civilised country, if they give you a date people will work with that date. But since the minister has put his job on the line, we are confident that flights will start in Abuja after next week. He added.