A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 on Sunday filled with holidaymakers and school children returning to Nigeria was unable to find a parking spot at Murtala Muhammad International Airport, the country’s busiest airport after a nine-hour trip from Doha, Qatar.
Tired Passengers on the flight QR 1407 got upset held up inside the plane which was in a holding position on the Lagos taxiway for an additional hour after touch-down on Sunday morning at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
Airport officials claim the airport is congested but experts say the situation speaks of the rot which has been the lot of Nigeria’s busiest international airport and defeats talks of becoming a regional air hub.
After an hour of landing at the airport, a Air Côte d’Ivoire plane moved and the Qatar plane parked
According to sources, the Airport is the situation could have been avoided with proper planning in place.
A Lufthansa jet and an AirPeace plane are parked at the airport, which is said to be congested. However, these two airlines usually fly into Lagos in the evening, sources told BusinessDay.
However, Henrietta Yakubu, general manager, corporate affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said an AirFrance flight came in with an emergency patient and was given priority to park at the position Qatar was suppose to park.
Yakubu alleged that Qatar was given another parking space but declined the offer but after much negotiations, another aircraft was moved for Qatar to park.
However, earlier in 2019, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) directed owners of used aircraft parked at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos to remove them from the aprons of the airport in order to create space for other serviceable and functional aircraft.
The agency also offered the owners of the unused aircraft to move them to less busy airports like Ilorin, Enugu, Port Harcourt and others without additional cost and charge from FAAN.
BusinessDay checks show that after the order many of the airlines have failed to remove the aircraft.
Victoria Shin-Aba, the Regional Manager, South West, explained that FAAN has space constraints at the airport, lamenting that despite this, some airline operators prefer to park their unused aircraft at the airside under the claim that Lagos is their operational base.
She explained further that the agency was planning to build additional apron at the airport, which would be ready very soon.
She emphasised that FAAN has about “32 international airlines flying into Nigeria, around 272 international aircraft movement daily for both arrival and departure”.
“On the domestic scene, we have 27 arrivals and 32 departures, while we have 30 cargo arrivals and 28 departures,” she said.
“At our cargo apron, the capacity is meant to take four aircraft at least two wide-bodied aircraft and two smaller aircraft at the same time. Once in a while we have more than capacity, once this place is filled up, we take the cargo flights to the international airport and that is additional cost to the cargo airline as they need to deploy and truck their goods from international to cargo.
“This is why we need to create space for airlines. On the left is supposed to be the expansion and we are on it. Safety issues can also arise due to congestion, which is what happens most times. The expansion is looking at increasing the cargo apron to accommodate eight wide-bodied aircraft. So when work commences that is what we are looking at.”
She added that FAAN was reaching out to the owners of the abandoned aircraft on the possibility of removing them, stressing that there was no to amend the agency’s bylaw, which allows aircraft owners to park their abandoned airplanes at the airside endlessly.
IFEOMA OKEKE and SEGUN ADAMS