Kaduna airport ready as Abuja runway shuts down next Wednesday
NAMA installs navigational aids
After much hues and cries, all appears set for traffic diversion to Kaduna airport beginning from Wednesday, when the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, closes for the much-awaited reconstruction.
The Guardian learnt that government agencies have fully deployed and installed relevant equipments to receive Abuja-bound domestic and international carriers. Similarly, logistic services for ground handling services and 240km road travel to Abuja and its environs have been organised to cater for the passengers.
The readiness, including security arrangement, is to douses tension among air travellers and other stakeholders that are worried about the inconvenience that will be attendant of the diversion.
Recall that the 4000metres-long Abuja runway has been in bad shape in the last couple of months and was in December 2016 penciled for repair by the Federal Government.
While the repair work would last for at least six weeks, air traffic will be diverted to Kaduna airport, from where buses will take passengers back to Abuja in two-hour road journey.
Except Ethiopian Airways that has pledged to divert Abuja-bound flights to Kaduna Airport, other international airlines have declined the Kaduna option. While some of the airlines have informed customers of the plan to suspend operations from March 8 to April 19, others have opted for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, expressing concern over security issues in Kaduna.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), saddled with the management of the airport among others across the country, said all was set for smooth operations in the northern state.
Kaduna airport manager, Amina Ozi-Salami, during an on-site inspection, said the airport was ready to handle the expected traffic upsurge as soon as NAIA is closed.
Ozi-Salami said the runway was in perfect condition while the capacity of the airport had been enhanced to accommodate any type of aircraft. She added that the lighting of the runway had been completed during the week as well as enhanced manpower to meet the operational needs during the six weeks period.
In its bid to ensure accuracy, reliability and efficiency of facilities at the Kaduna airport, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has also rounded off the routine calibration of the Very High Omnidirectional Radio Range/Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR/DME) and the flight commissioning of the Instrument Landing System/Distance Measuring Equipment (ILS/DME).
The component parts of the facilities, which include Two VOR transmitters, two DMEs co-located with the VORs, two localizer transmitters, two glideslope transmitters and two DMEs co-located with the glideslope all passed the flight calibration test.
The flight calibration was handled by Omni-Blue Aviation Ltd along with their technical partners (FCSL of United Kingdom) in collaboration with NAMA engineers who carried out the installation, alignment and parameter adjustment during the exercise.
According to the Calibration Manager, Engr. Akeem Ogunmola, the flight exercise which started from Kaduna will extend to Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Bauchi.
In Bauchi, Ogunmola, said the calibration team would be commissioning three systems which include ILS/DME, VOR/DME and Non-directional beacon. Also to be calibrated are facilities in the Port Harcourt and Lagos international airports.
Director of Safety Electronics and Engineering Services, Engr. Farouk Umar, who led the NAMA team of engineers in the installation of the facilities in Kaduna, described the calibration exercise as very successful, saying “Kaduna airport is on full components of navigational aids, functioning at optimal levels.
“We can gladly report that Kaduna airport can now safely land aircraft even in critical weather conditions as far as Navaids are concerned,” he said.
In a related development, Conoil has announced its readiness to beef-up its Kaduna aviation office to reinforce its operations during the Abuju runway repairs.
The oil marketer, in a statement, said the relocation would involve the movement of its high-tech bowsers, dispensers and human capital from Abuja to reinforce its Kaduna operations. This, the company believes, will ensure that the operations of airlines continue to run smoothly while travellers go about their journeys in a seamless manner.
“The decision by the Federal Government to repair the runway is commendable. Safety in the aviation industry cannot be compromised. The move is in tandem with Conoil’s commitment to strict safety standards in all areas of its operations”, the statement read in part.
The marketer, therefore, called on airline operators and travelers for their understanding and co-operation, adding that though it may be a bit inconvenient, it will serve the general good in the long run.