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 Forty-one-year old after the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos was built, a new international terminal  built from a loan secured from the Chinese Import Export Bank is due for inauguration this month to end years of complaints by users of the old terminal, which is to be partially closed, KELVIN OSA OKUNBOR reports

The narrative of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos is about to change as the Federal Government is set to inaugurate a new international terminal with the capacity to process a minimum of two million passengers annually. The journey towards the new terminal has come with many years of pains following consistent complaints by airlines and passengers and other users. The airport is a victim of epileptic power outage, obsolete baggage carousels and dysfunctional air-conditioning system.

The international terminal modelled after Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was opened on March 15,  1979. Forty one years after, the terminal is giving way to a new facility constructed by the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) under a concession arrangement with the Federal Government.

The concession is part of efforts by the Federal Government to overhaul obsolete air transport infrastructure across the country with a $500 million loan secured from the Chinese Import Export Bank.

Besides the Lagos Airport, other cities where these facilities are located include Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu.

Though construction work has been ongoing at the site of the new Lagos International Airport terminals for many years, its design has altered the architecture of existing facilities at the airport.

Experts say the opening of the new terminal will alter the ambience of the airport as new link roads have been constructed to create a drive through and drop off arrangement for motorists plying the airport.


Speaking in an interview at the weekend, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Hamisu Rabiu Yadudu, said though work was almost completed on the new terminal, the old facility would still be put to use because of constraints of size of the new facility.New terminal inside

Yadudu said the government would not completely bring down the 41-year-old facility, but carry out a phased but, partial closure while the new terminal is running.


He said the government was determined to carry out a major restructuring of the terminal, which design could be transformed into a modern infrastructure at minimal cost without much distortion.

Yadudu said: ” The old terminal will require a lot of work to be done on it, so as not to distort the design. Obviously, it is going to be restructured. The old design had too many offices, which does not align with global trends in constructing new airport terminals, which requires space for green areas, shopping and other aesthetics. The old design will be restructured with minimal distortions. We will not close the old terminal completely, our plan is to close a part of it and allow operations still running. This is because the new terminal cannot cater for all our operations. It will be closed in phases, while we work in the new terminal to ensure there are no hitches.


“We are not going to close it completely. The new terminal is not up to 50 per cent of the old terminal in terms of land space. The good thing is that the new terminals are modern concepts.”  The aircraft pilot explained that issues bordering on space for aircraft parking would be resolved technically.

He said: “There have been no issues with aircraft parking at the apron of the Lagos International Airport. Apron at airports has designs which have to be studied by all stakeholders, including the civil aviation authority. The duty of FAAN is to implement. The problems have always been issues of constraints and concerns. The constraints we had were because some of the bridges were bad.  They are being fixed now and some of them have been replaced. The new terminal will not have such a challenge; we will utilise the remote parking style as done in other airports.”

Though experts, including a former Executive Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Captain Noggie Meggison and former spokesman of defunct Nigeria Airways Limited, Mr Chris Aligbe, had clamoured for the pursuit of hub status for the MMIA, the FAAN boos said the ambition was closer to realisation with the new terminal.

He said the new terminal with strategically designed transit facilities will go a long way to easing the stress of passengers, airline personnel and other users of the facility.


Yadudu said: “The new international terminal billed for commissioning at the Lagos Airport is billed to achieve hub status for Nigeria in the West African sub region. But, it should not be seen from the point of view of the timing when this facility is open. It has been work in progress, strategically primed to achieve that long dream of making Lagos Airport in hub for West Africa. The terminal is about to be commissioned, it has already established a connectivity with other terminals. To have a hub status, there must be connectivity. Besides, there is also a need to connect the two wings of the international wings with the domestic terminal. For any airport to qualify as a hub the issue of connectivity must be properly worked out.

“It is easy to achieve hub status for a country like Nigeria. But, connectivity as a feature in hub pursuit must be in terms of passengers operations, personnel movement and baggage movement. It has to be full connectivity involving staffing issues to ease operations. We are working on processes that will make it easier for staffing, baggage and passenger operations. Already we have designs submitted to us by prospective investors to assist in achieving connectivity for the Lagos Airport . This is an important part of achieving the hub pursuit by ensuring that the airport is ready in terms of all infrastructural needs, procedural needs to achieve the ambition of a hub. But, having the second terminal has pushed us into almost seventy per cent of what is needed.”


On efforts by the airport authority to integrate the new facility with multimodal transport infrastructure, the FAAN Managing Director said discussions were ongoing with the Lagos State Government to link the existing rail facility with the airport.


 Size:      48,000Square metres

Lennox Mall

 New Terminal Passenger Capacity:                               15 million per annum

 Combined Capacity Old & New Terminla:  20  to 30 million passengers


Check-in Counters:                                                                    72

 Baggage Collection Carousels:                                               Five


 Immigration Desk for Arrival:                                                 28

 Immigration Desk for Departure:                                          16

 Security Screening points:                                                      Eight

 Boarding Bridges / Remote Boarding &Arrival:                   Eight


Yadudu said: “Serious engagement with stakeholders, in particular, Lagos State Government to achieve this initiative is ongoing with fruitful benefits. We have started work on this, hub status in terms of intermodal connections is beyond flight operations, we have to factor in movement of people from the city into the airport. And even from other cities into Lagos, there must be a mechanism to easily transit into the Lagos Airport, from wherever you are coming from to link you into and out of the airport.

“There is a light design that the airport authority is studying, we are possibly looking at linking the rail from the Ikeja Bus Terminal into the Lagos Airport .The Lagos State Government has been very supportive of this project. Our team has been meeting with them to see it through.”

On the profile of facilities to expect at the new terminal, Yadudu said: “In the new terminals, we will have the latest technology that is possible, but not all that is available in the world. We will have the technology that is critical, especially the ones having to do with the check in counters, fibre optic technology to take care of all communication needs, the common user terminal, but not ordinary communication cable that we will use in all the terminals.

“Passenger comfort option is also there in terms of air conditioning system, charging ports attached to the seat at the terminal. Above all the agencies including Nigeria Immigration Service that will work in this terminal understand all we are doing to enhance passenger facilitation with the technologically driven facilities that will boost passenger security and safety. The kind of facilities will reduce person to person interface, through automation of facilities that will boost operations.

“We already have our personnel trained in the terminals that have been built to man the technologically driven equipment in place. We will continue to train more to attain efficiency. The people trained have been working to get more experience because they need competency in the facility.

“The passenger capacity for the new terminal is difficult to give, because it depends on the frequencies that the airlines will utilize and the number of aerobridges, if we operate according to the number of aerobridges installed we are looking at about two million passengers annually. But the number of passengers could double if we do remote parking of aircraft, the number could triple. Remote parking, the frequency and type of boarding arrangement will determine the number of passengers to be processed from the facility.”

Though experts insist there is no going back on addressing infrastructure deficit at airports, Yadudu said ongoing efforts by the government to build new international airport terminals, will resolve the age-long setback.

He said: “The new terminals are purpose built, to address critical infrastructure deficit in the country. Nigeria, as you know is a populous country that informs of the decision of the government to build infrastructure that will match its size and the number of its people. Because of the huge population, there is huge demand on the facilities which also translates to huge potential. There is need for regular expansion of airport facilities because of issues of capacity, to catch and meet up with global trends. So the new terminals were conceived because of Nigeria’s teeming population to keep with the right standards, very modern with the right capacity, to serve Nigerians in terms of safety and efficiency.

“You can see from the new international airport terminals that have already been commissioned in Abuja and Port Harcourt that they are modern terminals fitted with the right facilities. There is nothing lacking and we are still working to ensure that other accessories and facilities including shopping amenities and passenger comfort facilities are still added. We have created shopping facilities, wireless internet fidelity facilities, charging ports and other necessary facilities to create a terminal with functional ambience and utility.

“Having the terminal commissioned is the first stage, other services and processes will be brought forward to create a facility that is work in progress. The passengers may see just a mere terminal open for use for flight operations, but as an airport authority we see it differently, because airport terminal operations throw up new trends and development every day , so we have to keep at it to deliver what is world class..

“We have to respond to the challenges that technology throws up for new terminals, not just because of security, but also in terms of passenger comfort and capacity and utility. The terminals are meant to cater for the traveling population for both domestic and international travel for the comfort of all users.”

The Nation

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