Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says Federal Government is working hard to clear the $464m blocked funds belonging to foreign airlines operating in the country.
Mohammed also said the newly inaugurated Terminal Two of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, had created over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The Minister stated this during a tour of the new terminal which he said would complement the one built 40 years ago.
Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu; the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu and other officials of the Ministry accompanied the Minister during the tour.
The terminal, inaugurated in March 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari, is one one of the four terminals built with a concessionary loan from the China Exim Bank. While the new terminals in Port Harcourt and Abuja have been inaugurated, only that of Kano is still awaiting inauguration.
He stated that the terminal has state-of-the art facilities and fittings with the capacity to process 14 million passengers per annum, adding, “It has 60 check-in counters, five Baggage Claim Belts, 16 departure desks and 28 arrival desks.”
Mohammed said there are eight Security Screening Points at the International Terminal 2 and 7 Passenger Boarding Bridges.
Visiting at a time the industry was facing challenges with foreign airlines unable to repatriate their funds and they are threatening suspension of flights to Nigeria, the Minister assured that relevant authorities are working hard to clear the funds.
“On the trapped funds, I can tell you that the relevant authorities are working hard on that issue,” he said.
Mohammed assured that gradually the new terminal would be busy as the old one as the authorities continue to test-run all the facilities.
He said, “I was here 40 years ago when the first terminal was commissioned. There is a time between the commissioning of an airport and when the airport becomes operational. You know aviation is unforgiving of any mistake.
“So we need to test-run and be extremely certain that every piece of equipment is working optimally. The beauty of it is that this airport has become operational.
“You can come in here and continue to various parts of the world. When the old airport was commissioned, it took quite a while for it to become operational.
“The new international terminal is not to replace the old one but to complement it. It is gradually, and very soon this airport will be very busy. You can see that terminals are not used only by airlines. We have restaurant operators, banks, foreign exchange operators etc and you have to screen people over and over again before it becomes operational.”
‘5 airlines to relocate to new terminal’
FAAN Managing Director, in his remarks, said five airlines would relocate to the new terminal by September 1, adding that gradually other airlines would move.
He stated that a lot of system integration is ongoing to make the relocation of more airlines seamless and hassle-free.
Yadudu further disclosed that the plan to expand the ramp of the terminal to accommodate more aircraft is ongoing.