The second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, will be ready before the end of the current administration in 2019, the Federal Government has said.
It said the construction of a second runway at the airport was on course, as preliminary consultations were ongoing.
Operators in the aviation sector, as well as other stakeholders, have called on the government to construct a second runway at the NAIA, especially after the airport was closed for several weeks earlier this year.
The Federal Government had on March 8, 2017, shut the Abuja airport for six weeks to repair its 3.6-kilometre runway and consequently diverted flights from the NAIA to the Kaduna International Airport.
To address the concerns about another runway for the airport, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, explained that the fund needed for the construction of the facility was budgeted in the 2017 Appropriation Bill.
He noted that the 2018 budget would also make provision for the runway.
Sirika stated this when members of the Joint Aviation Trade Unions and Professional Associations Forum, a body comprising heads of different unions in the sector, visited him in his office in Abuja on Monday.
The minister, according to a statement by the ministry, informed his guests that based on the government’s thinking, the runway would be constructed before the expiration of the present administration’s term in May 2019.
He said the Federal Government had also put in place a policy to regulate the engagement of expatriates in the sector.
He noted that with the policy, expatriates would only be engaged in areas where there were no licensed Nigerian professionals.
Sirika told the union members that there was no reason why Nigeria could not fix its aviation sector, particularly now that the industry was headed by seasoned aviators.
He said the establishment of a national carrier was on course, adding that as soon as the necessary approvals were obtained, the deal would be done.
The Chairman, Joint Aviation Trade Unions and Professional Associations Forum, Safiyanu Mohammed, said the visit was aimed at working with the government to see how best to fix and move the sector forward.
He said the unions also wanted to know the vision of the minister on how the government planned to improve airports in Nigeria and to present the group’s observations concerning concession agreements in the sector.