World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigeria has announced a six-week closure of the only airport in the country's capital Abuja to allow for repairs on its runway, leading major airlines to likely cease service to the West African country altogether.
Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed said Monday that Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport would be closed for six weeks as of Wednesday.
Flights originally bound for the capital city are to fly to Kaduna Airport -- some160 kilometers (100 miles) north of the capital -- from where passengers would be driven to Abuja, escorted by armed security guards.
There have been frequent abductions on the Kaduna-Abuja road. Two weeks ago, two German archaeologists were kidnapped in Kaduna by unknown gunmen who later demanded a ransom.
Mohammed told a news briefing in Abuja that adequate security precautions have been taken and urged airline operators to cooperate with the government.
Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said only Ethiopian Airlines had agreed to operate from Kaduna Airport while discussions were still ongoing with other international airline operators, including Turkish Airlines.
Most of the major foreign airlines -- including British Airways, Lufthansa and South African Airways -- have said they would not operate from the alternate airport, mainly for security reasons.
Air France told Anadolu Agency on Monday that no final decision had been taken on whether or not to use Kaduna Airport.
“We are currently studying every possible option, without compromising on any of our operational, and security standards. We will further communicate when a final decision has been made,” it said in a response to Anadolu Agency’s inquiry.
All local airlines have agreed to use the alternate airport.
The German archeologists have since been freed. Police did not say if a ransom had been paid.