Why we shut Abuja airport – Minister

A Saudi Arabian plane blocked the runway.

The Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, has explained why the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was shut down on Thursday.

In a statement by her Special Assistant of Media, Joe Obi, the minister confirmed that all flights into Abuja have been temporarily suspended till further notice.

The minister’s spokesperson said, “A Saudi Arabian B747 cargo aircraft landed in Abuja last night and veered off at the manoeuvring area of the runway, ran into a maintenance area of the runway and stopped.”

Mr. Obi said flights into Abuja airport were put on hold so as to facilitate evacuation effort on the runway. He said normal operations will resume immediately the aircraft is removed.

According to the statement, the Group Corporate Communications Manager of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Yakubu Dati, said no casualty was recorded while plans are underway to move the aircraft away following a preliminary assessment visit by Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau AIPB, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, and other relevant agencies.

The statement also said that the Saudi plane incident was not a plane crash and apologised to travellers and airport users for inconveniences caused. It added that concerted effort was being intensified to remove the obstacle and restore normalcy while the public would be updated as progress is made towards restoring normal operations at the airport.

The airport problem also hindered all planes leaving the Nigerian capital, as the affected runway is believed to be the only standard one.

Already, Arik and Aero, two of the largest domestic airline operators, have cancelled all flights from the Abuja airport on Thursday.

Passengers stranded at the Abuja airport
Passengers stranded at the Abuja airport

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