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Hundreds of Nigeria flights cancelled over runway 'potholes'
Posted on 25/02/2017

TransportNigeria

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International airlines such as British Airways and Air France have had to cancel hundreds of flights to Nigeria's capital due to the poor state of its runway.

Nnamdi Azikwe International, the airport of Nigeria's capital, is to shut for six weeks due to runway renovations, causing many airlines to cancel all flights to Abuja. From March 8 all flights into the airport will be diverted whilst it repairs the many huge potholes on the runway.

potholes and bandits cause hundreds of cancellations

potholes and bandits cause hundreds of cancellations
©Jaromír Chalabala/123RF

Though airlines using Nnamdi Azikwe Airport were asked to divert their flights to Kaduna airport, 100 miles north of the capital, many have decided to cancel flights altogether over low security levels in the rest of the country.

International airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France have refused to let their passengers fly into Kaduna, which is also known as "Croc City", due to a high threat of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism.

Passengers with plans to fly to Nigeria over the next couple of months are urged to try to change the date of their bookings or to access Nigeria through different airports such as Lagos or Accra. British Airways customers can also claim for a refund.

A spokesperson for British Airways said: "We will not be flying to or from Abuja while the airport's runway is being repaired. All customers affected can move their bookings earlier or later in the year when the airport is open, rebook to our Lagos or Accra services or claim a full refund.

"We would advise customers to keep checking our website for the latest information if they are due to fly to or from Abuja in the coming months."

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Kaduna. The northern Nigerian city recently witnessed the kidnapping of two Germans.

Nigeria has attempted to create a secure diversion for passengers by lining the road between Kaduna and Abuja with police, and shuttling people on buses with armed guards. But the airport has also reported that local livestock such as goats and cows have been getting onto the runway.

Mohammed Sani, one of the airport's engineers, said: "The goats have chewed some holes, but we're patching them up."

The airport's closure is a huge setback for Nigeria, which is currently suffering economic difficulties and famine in some parts of the country. Concerns have also been raised about the health of Muhammadu Buhan, the Nigerian President. He travelled to the UK over a month ago for medical treatment and hasn't yet returned to Nigeria.

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