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Abuja Airport Closure Ethiopian Air becomes first international airline to land in Kaduna

The Abuja airport was shut down on Wednesday, March 8, to allow the government repair a damaged runway.

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Ethiopia Airline's newly acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with a seating capacity of 400 passengers, arrives at the Bole International Airport in Capital Addis Ababa November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri play Ethiopia Airline's newly acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with a seating capacity of 400 passengers, arrives at the Bole International Airport in Capital Addis Ababa November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

An Ethiopian Air flight has landed at the Kaduna Airport following the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja.

The Abuja airport was shut down on Wednesday, March 8, to allow the government repair a damaged runway.

The Ethiopian Air plane, with registration number ET-AOQ, had over 50 passengers ‎and crew members on board according to Daily Trust.

The arrival of the flight was reportedly celebrated with a ceremonial shower by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika had earlier said that Ethiopian Airlines was the only international carrier which had agreed to fly to Kaduna following the closure of the Abuja airport.

German carrier, Lufthansa Airlines said, in February, that it would not fly to the Kaduna airport.

Similar sentiments were expressed by British Airways and South African Airways while KLM and Air France have temporarily canceled flights to Abuja during the period of the repairs.

President of the Association of Foreign Airlines’ Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), Kingsley Nwokoma said that security concerns were responsible for the airlines’ refusal to fly to Kaduna.

“The major reason is security. The road between Abuja and Kaduna has many issues, security wise. There has been so much kidnapping on that road,” he told ThisDay.

“The second reason is that the local carriers are not in any form of partnership with these international airlines so that they can code-share. Ethiopia Airlines might go to Kaduna, but the major carriers like British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, South Africa Airways, Etihad, Qatar, Emirates, Turkish airlines will not go to Kaduna.

“If anything happens on the road between Abuja and Kaduna who takes responsibility. Until they finish the runway in Abuja, these foreign airlines will stop the Abuja flights,” he added.

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Sirika also said that observations made by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, during an inspectorial visit on Friday, March 3, had been “taken care of.”

The airport will be closed for six weeks to allow for repairs on the runway, which the government says is too damaged to be managed.

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