Local airlines can now heave a sigh of relief, as the Federal Government finally restores airfield lighting on the Runway 18L of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
The critical infrastructure had been in blackout in the last 14 years, and an operational nightmare for night operations in and out of the domestic terminal.
It will be recalled that the Runway 18L/36R that services the local airport was in 2008 rehabilitated but without provision for airfield lighting.
Without runway lighting for night operations, the runway is shut at sunset, forcing the domestic terminal and airlines to wind down operations at dusk – the peak of global air travel.
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At nightfall (from 6p.m.), the alternative is for all Lagos-bound domestic carriers to divert to the international section (Runway 18R), and be made to taxi about four kilometres back to the domestic terminal, which costs extra fuel, flight congestion and disruptions.
Over a year ago, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) began the repair work and it reopened to flight operations at the weekend following a successful rehabilitation.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the reopening of the runway, said the new investment finally puts closure to concerns on safety, airport efficiency and airlines’ high operating cost.
Sirika noted that the runway caused untold hardship in the sector for 14 years and earlier administrations overlooked the critical infrastructure such that airlines started seeing the abnormal as the norm.
He, however, said the current administration has done the needful as part of efforts to transform the aviation sector.