The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has finally shut the domestic runway of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
The closure was to complete the installation of Category (CAT) III Airfield Ground Lighting system on the Runway 18L/36R.
The FAAN had earlier issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) to stakeholders ahead of the closure while all domestic traffic would be diverted to the international runway.
The closure was effected over the weekend despite concerns from some stakeholders who kicked against the complete shutdown of the runway which they said may cause flight delays.
An airline operator, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, had earlier raised concerns that the move to close the Domestic Runway 18L/36R in Lagos for 90 days would amount to creating a chaotic environment at the airport that will overwhelm airline operators, Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) and other operators in the sector.
Mshelia said the airport authority does not need to close the airport completely, noting that other measures could be adopted to ensure a seamless operation at the airport.
According to him, the installation can begin after sunset daily using construction lights till sunrise, then sweep off and open the 18L/36R at sunrise for normal use as currently being done daily .
“It is exciting to hear the lights are coming on finally, but I am afraid that closing it completely will create real traffic chaos.
The current curfew on that runway should not be Tampered with for obvious reasons. Night construction is possible and will maintain the status quo and less or no effect to current traffic flow, Airlines and passengers inconveniences.
Closing it completely will create heavy arrival and departure aerial traffic and ground traffic(aircraft go slow). ATC will be stacking aircraft overhead Lagos crazily and will overwhelm them with the epileptic radar making things even far worse.”
When contacted last night, FAAN’s acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Faithful Hope-Ivbaze allayed the fears of the operators, saying the closure is just “for a moment.”
She said the project had delayed for over a decade and said the Federal Government is now determined to fix it and appealed for the understanding of all stakeholders.
According to him, at the end of the install, “Everybody will be happy. The passengers would be happy.
“We are soliciting the understanding of everyone and a meeting was held to that effect with all the stakeholders before we eventually shut it,” she added.