FG bars airlines from Maiduguri airport over Boko Haram

Semiu Salami
Semiu Salami
Stella Oduah, Former Aviation Minister

The Federal Government has barred airlines from flying into the Maiduguri airport until March 2014.

According to a Notice to Airmen, NOTAM, sent by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency to airline operators,  the carriers were told that the airport would no longer be available for flights until March 2014.

In the NOTAM, which was filed through NAMA’s Aeronautical Information Services, and sent to some Control Towers across the country, pilots were informed that the Maiduguri airport was shut during the first week of December and would not be available until early March next year.

Further investigations by our correspondent revealed that the Federal Government decided to shut the airport after Boko Haram insurgents destroyed some equipment belonging to NAMA.

A NAMA source at one of the airports in the North, who confirmed the development, said it was the agency’s generators that were destroyed by the Boko Haram sect during the recent attack on the Maiduguri Air Force base.

He said the generators might not be fixed until next year, expressing the hope that the government would have fixed the situation before the March date when the airport was expected to be re-opened.

Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, was  on December 2 attacked by Boko Haram insurgents, leading to the death of two military personnel and members of the sect, and the destruction of three decommissioned military aircraft, two helicopters and property worth millions of naira.

Owing to the siege, military authorities and the Borno State Government slammed a 24-hour curfew on the city and its environs.

The attack forced the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to shut the Maiduguri airport and airlines hurriedly cancelled their flights to the city.

Arik Air had to cancel its Abuja to Maiduguri morning flight on Monday following the attack, just as roads leading into the city were closed.

However, the FAAN spokesman, Yakubu Dati, said on Monday that the airport had been opened.

He said the Maiduguri airport was just closed for a day following the Boko Haram attack on the nearby Air Force base and had since been re-opened.

But findings revealed that the airport had yet to be reopened. Arik Air said it had yet to resume operations to the Maiduguri airport because the airport was still closed.

Early this year, domestic airlines operating flights into Kano, Maiduguri, Yola and other volatile cities the North had announced plans to stop flights into the cities due to security concerns.

The development came a few months after some of the domestic carriers cancelled night-stops for their crew and aircraft in extremely volatile northern cities, especially Maiduguri.

The security situation had forced the foreign airlines to stop night stops at the Abuja airport.

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