Chaos, gridlock as airlines begin relocation to new Lagos int’l terminal

Airlines were on Thursday subjected to chaotic passenger facilitation as they tried to beat the October 1, 2023 deadline for carriers to relocate to the new Murtala Muhammed International Airport terminal in Lagos.

Many passengers waited endlessly for their baggage to be sorted out for onward loading into the belly of the aircraft and offloading of baggage from arriving airplanes.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo had last week on inspection of facilities in Lagos directed the movement of airlines from the old and decrepit international airport terminal to the new one which has remained unused because of the inability of the facility to accommodate wide-body aircraft.

Not a few said the Minister’s action was hasty but a few others said it was the best decision to take to allow for total refurbishment of the old terminal.

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A passenger who spoke with Aviation Metric said, “We arrived on Qatar Air yesterday at 3.25 pm or thereabouts. It took 15 minutes for the stairs to be positioned.  We were told to wait for buses. No buses came. We disembarked on the tarmac. We had to climb upstairs. I got my last bag at 5.32 pm.”

“We had to go downstairs on a steep ramp. Walked to new exit ramp at the old terminal. After escaping, we found the road blocked with a rope by an old man who asked for an exit fee”.

The source expressed sadness at the situation, adding that the processing capacity of the old terminal into the new one in one fell swoop without it resulting in paralyzing gridlock was impossible.

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“The old terminal throughput is way beyond the capacity of the new terminal. It was designed at best to offer additional capacity to the old terminal, not to replace it abruptly.”

“Besides, everyone needs to note that the check-in hall is designed for code C aircraft (B737s, A320s, etc.) and below, not for the codes D and E (A330s, B777,) aircraft that we are now trying to mass process through it. The result is predictable chaos.

Also, bussing pax and processing bags to code D and E aircraft as far away as the E pier at MMIA, he noted means incessant delays and a lot of chaos.

It takes quite a few busses to disembark and board 300 or more passengers. It’s a logistical challenge on its own, not to mention safety he noted.

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An aviation expert who pleaded anonymity said, “We are all trying to achieve the same thing, which is a better airport experience through MMIA.”

“So at this point, rather than moan, let us offer support to the players and help the situation. Let us also understand that in this situation, FAAN and the Minister are classic victims of past bad decisions.

“We need to work together quickly to release capacity back into the old terminal and phase in capacity into the new terminal (with time separation based on airline schedules), for best results. To leave the situation as is would be unsustainable for our gateway.”

Wole Shadare