New Lagos airport terminal: Changing the narrative of travel in Nigeria

Before now, Nigeria was in the global map for having the worst airports in the world, with focus on ailing infrastructures and poor services which were a cause of discomfort to hundreds of passengers who passed through the airports daily.

In 2017, a survey carried out by renowned aviation organisation, Sleep in Airport ( showed that two nation’s airports: Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa and Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, were ranked top among the world’s worst 20 airports.

The survey ranked Lagos the fifth worst airport in the world, while Port Harcourt was ranked the third worst airport globally.

The criteria used included comfort (gate seating and availability of rest zones), services, facilities and things to do, food options, immigration/security, customer service, cleanliness, navigation and ease of transit and sleep-ability.

It was therefore in a bid to change this narrative tat the federal government had entered into a bilateral arrangement with the People’s Republic of China to build brand new international terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu.

The Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, currently processes the highest passengers for international travels, therefore making infrastructure upgrade and top-notch service delivery key to redeeming the country’s image globally.

The new Lagos airport terminal therefore seeks to not only provide best services to passengers but also facilitate the country’s strive of becoming an aviation hub for Africa.

During a recent facility tour at the MMIA new Lagos airport terminal, Lai Mohammed, the minister of Information and culture described his visit to the edifice as an “exhilarating experience comparable to what obtains anywhere in the world.”

Mohammed said the new Lagos airport terminal was not built to replace Terminal 1 but to complement it and that is why passengers can check in at one Terminal and Board at the other.

He said this terminal is the first terminal added to the original terminal since it was built some 40 years ago.

“The Terminal 2 Project started in 2013 and was completed by the present administration in 2022 under a bilateral agreement with the People’s Republic of China. The terminal, which has state-of-the art facilities and fittings, has the capacity to process 14 million passengers per annum.

“It has 60 check-in counters, five baggage claim belts, 16 departure desks and 28 arrival desks. There are eight security screening points at the international terminal 2 and seven passenger boarding bridges. There is a whole new experience in terms of aesthetics, comfort, free trolley services, hotel and premium lounges, friendly customer services and free wifi,” the minister said.

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He assured that over 10,000 direct and indirect job opportunities have been created in the new terminal.

He hinted that the terminal in Lagos is replicated in four other terminals across the country Abuja, Port Harcourt Enugu and Kano, adding that this edifice, and the others like it, is a testament to the commitment of the Buhari Administration’s unprecedented infrastructure development covering roads, bridges, rail, water dams, sea ports, etc.

On delayed commencement of flight operations at the new Lagos terminal, he said there is a need to first test-run the facility and be extremely certain that every equipment is working optimally before the terminal is being put into use.

“I was here 40 years ago when the first terminal was commissioned. There is a time between the commissioning of an airport and when the airport becomes operational. You know aviation is unforgiving of any mistake. So we need to test-run and be extremely certain that every equipment is working optimally,” Mohammed said.

He assured that the Chinese loan used for the building of the new terminal would be paid back, adding that the major problem is that the tax to GDP ratio is so low because most Nigerians don’t pay tax.

He however appealed to Nigerians to help the government in paying their taxes, so that there would be reduction in deficit the country is experiencing.

On the maintenance of the terminal, he said, “I can assure you that the issue of maintenance up to the cleaning of the airport has been taken care of. As a matter of fact, we refuse to compromise. At the beginning some people said we should give the maintenance of the airport to local companies but I said what is important is safety and security.

“When we give the maintenance to competent people, they will also be obliged within a certain time to transfer technology to local companies. As of today, the best in the world are taking care of the maintenance of this airport,” he added.

Rabiu Yadudu, the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) who also spoke during the facility tour said FAAN would rather take its time than start flight operations at the new airport on the wrong footing, adding that this does not mean nothing is being done.

Yadudu said that from the 1st of September, which is in the next two weeks, five more airlines are scheduled to start operations in the new international terminal.

He assured that a lot of integration has to be done and more than eight airlines have shown interest in starting operations at the new terminal but five are starting from 1st of September.

“There is a connecting area with the old terminal where passengers will move from one terminal to the other. We need the aircraft to be able to park at one side. The second part is that FAAN is working with the federal government to ensure the clearing of obstruction so that there will be accessibility for the planes to park in that area.

“In terms of the businesses, some of these business of duty free are international businesses and it takes time for them to be able to come, especially when you are coming to a government operated area, there are a lot of due processes. Most of the basic ones are there such as the Bureau De Change (BDCs), the restaurants, pharmacies and these are the essential ones. In the next few weeks, we will have some of the duty free start up,” he said.