Following the instructions from Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development directing airlines and companies operating at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) old airport terminal to move to the new terminal, constructed by the Chinese company, airlines have began to grapple with congestion at the terminal, which has since resulted flight delays and cancellations, leaving several passengers stranded.
The Minister last week had said the old terminal will be shut down for repairs October 1, 2023 and therefore asked airlines and companies operating at the old terminal to move to the new terminal.
BusinessDay’s investigations show that airlines have started relocating to the new terminal but are already faced capacity issues, delaying baggage handling and passenger facilitation.
Also the fire incident which occured on Wednesday at the old MMIA terminal also hastened the relocation of some airlines to the new terminal, leading to influx of passengers and airlines at the new terminal.
A staff at Virgin Atlantic had taken to her Instagram handle to explain challenges already being faced by airlines and passengers as a result of the relocation.
“It’s a total nightmare. We had to spread the bags across three belts. The last bag went down the belt at exactly one hour eight minutes after the flight should have departed. In all, it was one hour 37 minutes delay. Who pays for this? Kenya Airways cancelled last night because they ran out of crew time. One hundred passengers on Egypt Sir last night missed their connections, who pays for this? ”
Other Instagram users who were affected lamented on how the airport management had failed to manage routine operations effectively.
An aviation stakeholder who would not want his name mentioned said the new terminal cannot handle the amount of traffic the ‘forced’ movement will bring.
“It has nothing to do with the fire. The minister of aviation has advisers who should have told him that a forced movement of all international traffic to the new terminal is not feasible.”
Sindy Foster, principal managing partner, Avaero Capital Partners told BusinessDay that the minister should have taken time to understand the issues fully before making costly decisions which affect private businesses.
“The cost and practicality of the airlines relocating all at the same time is something to be considered. They should have phased it; closed parts of MMIA at a time like is done elsewhere. Rolling refurbishment was even done at Schiphol which has the same design. Retrofitting AC is possible if they use a qualified firm and get rid of the internal blocks,” Foster said.
She said while she doesn’t think the decisions are necessarily wrong but the timing is everything, adding that a deeper understanding was necessary to get the next steps right.
“I don’t understand the ‘announcement first’ then ‘work it out later’ method of administration which is practiced in Nigeria. I understand processes: implementation plans, impact assessments, consultation, adjustments as needed before implementation. Working things out when we have passengers and airlines all up in the air is difficult, which is why it is not done like this normally,” Foster said.