International airlines shun new Lagos terminal over space constraints

International airlines operating in Nigeria are not using the new terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, launched over one month ago because of space constraints.

While Air Peace, the largest domestic airline in Nigeria last week commenced regional and international flight operations from the new terminal, BusinessDay gathered that the apron at the terminal is not wide enough to accommodate wide-bodied aircrafts such as Dream liner aircraft, Boeing 777s, 747s and Airbus A380s, which are in the fleets of Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways and Air Peace.

A visit to the airport on Thursday shows that the old terminal is still very busy, with international flights landing and taking off from there and passengers being processed at the old terminal.

The new terminals at MMIA; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Aminu Kano International Airport; Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and Port Harcourt International Airport were all funded by the China Exim bank facility to the Nigerian government.

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BusinessDay had earlier reported that while other terminals have since been completed and put to use, the completion of Lagos terminal was delayed as a result of design error and wrong placement of the apron (where aircrafts are packed).

Upon the discovery of this error, the Federal Government ordered the demolition of several buildings around the place.

Sindy Foster, principal managing partner, Avaero Capital Partners expressed her disappointment over the delays hindering the international airlines from commencing flight operations from the new Lagos airport terminal

“It was clear that there would be space constraints before the terminal was even built. You can’t just situate a terminal anywhere you like. That’s what master plans are for.

“I’m not even sure if anyone is surprised at this point. I’m tired of Nigeria being the laughing stock of the world. We always know what to do here, but we struggle to do things properly. The workaround culture is the dominant culture, not the pursuit of excellence and high standards. No other country with oil but no power would live for years on the temporary fix. This has become part of the norm here, when it is not, and never should be acceptable,” Foster said.