British Airways has relocated its operation to the new international terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
The relocation came following a directive by Federal Airports Authority (FAAN) that all the international airlines should move into the new terminal on or before 30th April.
FAAN said the relocation of the airlines would enable it commence renovation work at the old terminal.
BA relocated her operations on Tuesday when it landed its B777-300 at 4:40a.m with 220 passengers and crew onboard; comprising 207 passengers and 13 crew members.
The Regional General Manager of North-Central of FAAN, Mr. Sani Mahmud said the relocation of BA to the terminal would lead to full utilization of the facility and also help the authority streamline its international operations.
He said: “We feel fulfilled. We started with the commissioning of the airport by Mr president on the 20th of December 2018 and we prepared and started receiving flights immediately into the terminal with Asky.
“Today, all our 12 international airlines have moved in, the last being the British Airways. We are sincerely grateful to government for providing this edifice and you can see from the faces of the passengers that they are all happy to be in a new facility like this.”
Mahmud expressed hope that more international airlines will indicate to make Abuja a destination.
He also assured Nigerians and the world that the team in Abuja airport are competent enough to maintain the new facility.
“The ultimatum given to the airlines worked because we gave them 31st March in the first instance but two or three requested for extension to this time and by the grace of God, all of them have moved in.”We hope that more international airlines will come into Abuja in view of the facilities and the fact that Abuja airport is certified.”
Also speaking, the International Terminal Manager, Hajara Musa disclosed that over 500 cameras have been installed in strategic areas in the new facility to boost its security and safety.
She said: “Haven identified the risk attached to insider threat, we have over 500 cameras already installed and we are still going to put more.
“Every day we discover open area and we call the attention of the contractor on the need to empower the place with camera and there is always somebody at the control room who will alert you immediately he sees anything that is abnormal going on.
“There are no blind spots around the baggage area because it is full of cameras, personnel are at alert, the control room is at alert and we are moving round the clock. So, we are on ground.”
One of the BA passengers, Sen. Garshom Bassey urged the federal to go into more partnership with the private sector in order to establish more facilities across the country.
He said: “The problem we have in Nigeria is not having a new facility, it is sustaining the facilities that we have had. So, as a first time of using this facility, it looks wonderful, looks beautiful, clean, well maintained but my hope is that the authorities would be able to maintain this so that if you come back here in five years’ time it will look exactly like this.
“We have been talking about public private partnerships. It is important that some of the entities that the private sector may be interested in are handed over to the private sector and taken off the federal budget. That way, it will be more efficiently run.
“I think that is how it is mostly done in most parts of the world now. You hardly see any airport that is run by government. Most airports especially in the developed world are run by private sector and some on PPP arrangements.”
He continued: “So my advice is that the aviation authorities look into these kinds of options so that you can generate revenues and you don’t have to wait on federal budget for revenue just to maintain the airport.
“I am saying that the experts should look at all options so that aviation is not totally dependent on federal budget so that there can be other ways of creating revenue streams for this airport to maintain it so that money is not an excuse.”
Another passenger, Mrs Pauline Tallen adviced the authority to put measures in place to ensure that the facility is properly maintained.
“I am very impressed with the facility and the mode of operation here. It is fast and smooth and I must commend the federal government for the good job they are doing here.
“I pray that we continue to maintain the facility because maintenance is our problem in Nigeria so that we can meet with other developed nations. If we maintain this properly, we will be able to meet up the standard we see in other countries.”