Abuja airport temporarily shut down as plane skids off runway
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said the runway had to be shut down to enable the authority take safety precautions measures.
The Guardian learnt that the aircraft lost its landing gear in the process but the situation was put under control and normalcy restored within an hour.
In a tweet, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the aircraft lost its landing gear in an attempt to return to the runway.
The runway had since be reopened and normal flights operations had since resumed.
Spokesperson of FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, appreciated the patience of passengers and airport users and promised that the authority was commitment to promoting safety and comfort across airports in the country.
Meanwhile, airline operators yesterday urged the Federal Government to shelve immediate implementation of the open skies treaty to salvage the industry from imminent collapse.
The operators, emerging from an emergency meeting in Lagos, yesterday, said though the treaty is good in design, but Nigeria and the air travel sector have nothing to gain without first putting in place necessary measures for competitive advantage in the African single market dispensation.
The open sky treaty, otherwise called Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), allows carriers from 23 signatory countries like Nigeria an unfettered access and multiple destinations to any city of countries under the arrangement, as part of African Union’s (AU) move to improve connectivity and integrate African countries.
Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Nogie Meggison, said his members were concerned that the timing is not right as there are several unresolved issues and challenges being faced by Nigerian aviation that will ultimately undermine the perceived gains of this treaty.
Some of the issues for mention include lack of free movement across the African countries, unclear policy in the local aviation sector coupled with high interest rate, multiple taxation, Value Added Tax (VAT) and high cost of aviation fuel among others “killing local airlines.”
Meggison said the basic issue of free movement of people and trade is an integral aspect of the declaration that will go a long way to determine the fairness of the SAATM project.
“Sadly, it is a well-known fact that Nigerians require over 34 visas to travel within Africa alone. This is an issue that first needs to be addressed. Before opening the skies, open the visas.
“Again, the unclear and constantly changing policies which throw out Nigerian airlines’ feasibility studies into red. Government should come out with a clear policy that will position Nigerian airlines to take full advantage of the open skies,” he said.
Also, the high bank interest rates of 28 per cent compared to access to cheap funds provided and guaranteed by the government of most African carriers at a maximum of two per cent.
“Nigerian airlines pay VAT while most African carriers don’t pay VAT both in their various countries as well as here in Nigeria. This is already a deficit of five per cent on a small margin industry from the start for Nigerian airlines.’’
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