To put other airports to maximum use, especially the newly-constructed terminals, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is encouraging air travellers and airlines to divert some of their traffic to airports outside Lagos.

The new move is targeted at reducing the congestion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, which has remained one of the busiest Nigeria’s airport over the years.

According to FAAN, the diversion of traffic from Lagos would help in putting the newly- commissioned terminals in Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omegwa and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja to maximum use.

So far, two international carriers; Turkish Airlines and Emirates have indicated their readiness to commence scheduled flight operations from PHIA and NAIA, respectively from June, while Air Peace would also begin direct flight to Dubai from PHIA as from April this year.

General manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, stated this at the weekend at the agency’s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos in an interview with aviation journalists.

Yakubu explained that it was necessary to divert traffic from Lagos to other airports within the country, but noted that Lagos would remain the hub of airports in Nigeria.

She explained that rather than the entire airlines focused their attention on Lagos Airport, they could also make use of the state-of-the-art facilities in other aerodromes across the country, stressing that FAAN was determined to improve flying experience of air travellers within Nigeria.

According to her, Turkish Airlines would commence direct flight from its base to PHIA from June 25, while Emirates would increase its four weekly flights to daily to Dubai Airport from NAIA from June 1.

Already, she hinted that Cronos Air operates three weekly frequencies; Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from PHIA, while Lufthansa Airlines flies four times weekly; Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from the same airport.

Also, Air France operates five weekly flights; Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, stressing that the Turkish flights would be operated four times weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, starting from June 25, 2019, from the same airport.

Apart from the foreign airlines, she emphasised that Air Peace would also commence direct flight operations to Accra from Abuja, while scheduled flights between Port Harcourt and Dubai operations of the airline would commence in April this year.

Besides, Yakubu explained that Air Cote d’Ivoire would commence direct flight from Abuja to its base in Abidjan soon.

She said, “Turkish Air and Emirates would soon commence direct flight to their bases from the new Port Harcourt International Airport terminal. We want to appeal to members of the public that they don’t have to come from Port Harcourt or any part of the Eastern state to fly out of the country.

“They can easily go to Port Harcourt to fly. Also, as you know, Abuja Airport new terminal too has opened and Emirates would be starting from the terminal from June. We are expecting all the international airlines to start operating also from Abuja Airport.

“We want to encourage our passengers that they don’t all have to come to Lagos even though we know Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of the country and the airport is the hub, but passengers can travel from Abuja and Port Harcourt airports to connect to their destinations so that we can decongest Lagos airport. Turkish will soon commence a direct flight from Port Harcourt to Turkey, while Emirates will also do so to Dubai.”

The newly-commissioned Abuja Airport has annual capacity of 15 million passengers, while Port Harcourt has annual capacity of five million passengers.

She further informed that Kano Airport with another five million annual capacity would come on stream in the next two months, adding that the new terminal at Lagos airport would also be commissioned soon.

“Lagos airport did not take off early because of the issue of citing of the new terminal. Where we have it now, is not the original site, it has come up with a lot of issues – connectivity to the airside and the runway and others, but we are assuring our passengers that once Kano is commissioned, the next airport would be Lagos,” she added.