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Gov’t commit to complete second Abuja runway

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By Usman Oladimeji

Airline operators cited the second runway as the most pressing issue.

The federal government of Nigeria has reportedly committed to completing the N92.12 billion second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja by May 29. This is on the heels of many years of debacles and upheaval over cost and suboptimal ramp space. Although Airline operators have contended that a lack of ramp space for aircraft parking is the airport’s main concern, building the second runway has also been cited as the most pressing issue currently at hand.

Operators’ urge to increase ramp space is seen as a demand for concentrated action to reduce traffic, which is expected to impede the airport’s flawless operation within the next few years. In a media interview, industry stakeholders said that the new international terminal at the airport was positioned near the runway, decreasing the area available for the tarmac. Even with comparatively low traffic compared to Lagos, the Abuja airport apron area becomes insufficient when wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 777, Boeing 747, or Airbus A350 are parked at the ramp.

Space in the apron is insufficient with British Airways planes.

Further research also found that two wide-body planes from foreign carriers may occupy the apron, leaving little to no space for other planes to occupy. Aero Contractors’ Managing Director and CEO, Captain Ado Sanusi, has proposed a comprehensive solution to the problem by expanding the airport’s airside Infrastructure to make room for an enlarged apron. He anticipated that as Nigeria’s Economy developed and more people patronizing the airline, the airport’s passenger numbers would rise.

Additionally, Captain Sanusi highlighted that traffic at the Abuja airport is rapidly increasing as more international airlines operate there, and more local carriers enter the market, resulting in a rise in passenger flow. In the event of the arrival of a British Airways plane, for instance, the remaining space on the apron is insufficient. As such, he said, the extension should be made toward the taxiway in order to have additional room where aircraft may park.

Traffic situation may increase due to the meteoric popularity of the airport.

Captain Sanusi has lauded the concept of constructing the second runway as an excellent idea in his remark on the runway’s completion in a few months. He said that while the airport does not see much traffic right now, that might change soon due to the meteoric rise in popularity at airports like Abuja and Lagos. In the event that the first runway must be closed due to an emergency, he claims, the secondary runway will be an essential alternative.

In addition, the second runway will be necessary to accommodate the VIP movement, and a taxiway connecting directly to the Presidential Air Wing should be developed so that VIP aircraft may take off without utilizing the runway for commercial or other flights. This will decrease delays encountered when VIP aircraft are accessing the runway. In this case, it would be beneficial to link the taxiway to the second runway and the VIP wing. Capt. Sanusi went on to say that it would be very beneficial to have a birds-eye view of the airport when designing the extension.

Second runway would serve as a backup for flights in congested times.

Similarly, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, a veteran pilot and aircraft engineer who served as the previous Managing Director of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), said that the second airport would serve as a backup for flights due to the growing congestion at the Abuja airport. He also noted that having just one runway at an airport requires extensive emergency planning, which Nigeria currently lack the necessary infrastructure. Capt. Akinkuotu, also expressed a desire for an enlarged apron as part of the second runway Construction.


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