Thirty years after the contract was initiated, local airlines in Nigeria will now save aviation fuel burnt in taxing from the international runway to the domestic terminals in the night, as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has opened the runway designated for local carriers, known as Runway 18L/36R.
FAAN had in early June, 2022 closed the domestic runway to allow for installation of airfield lighting. The project, which commenced effectively on Friday, July 8, 2022, lasted 90 days, while the runway was closed to flight operations throughout the three-month period.
Before now, domestic airlines burned fuel for over 20 minutes, cumulatively put at billions of naira per annum, when they landed at the International Airport runway after 6:00 pm every day to taxi to the domestic terminal, known as MMA2 or the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), which provides domestic flight services. This is because for several years Runway 18L did not have airfield lighting to guide flights to land in the night.
Experts have expressed the opinion that the recent efforts made by FAAN to install airfield lightning at the runway is a very good development, as flights will now land and take off on the facility in the night, thus saving the operators the cost of fuel and time. According to them, this will also reduce traffic on the International Airport runway, as domestic airlines sometimes hover upon arrival at the Lagos airspace to wait for other flights to land before they do and also wait at the holding point for several minutes while taking off, thus causing delays.
Although, the first departure from the RWY 18L/36R took off at 06:18hrs Thursday, November, 11, 2022 by Air Peace flight number P4 7420 en-route Lagos-Kano, analyst are, however, waiting to see flights going to and from the runway both at night and in daylight.
Reacting to the completion of the project and opening of the Runway, Secretary General of the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Abdulrasaq Saidu applauded FAAN for completing and opening the runway.
Comrade Saidu urged Nigerians to wait until there is a smooth and efficient take-off and landing at nights before they start praising the Authorities.
The former Commandant of the MMIA, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd.), expressed delight over the opening of the runway, saying that stakeholders should “wait for the first night landing tonight (Friday November, 11,2022) at 18:00hrs”.
Airline operators have also applauded the Federal Government, the Minister of Aviation and FAAN for keeping up to the promise of delivering the project in record time
In his comment, the Vice President of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Allen Onyema, commended the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, and the Federal Government for the successful installation of airfield lighting on Runway 18L/36R at the Domestic Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
Onyema congratulated Sirika on the feat and hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his administration’s favourable policies to the aviation industry.
“I must applaud the Federal Government for successfully installing lighting facilities on Runway 18L/36R. President Buhari has been supportive to the aviation sector and projects like this one are a testament to the fact. One is not oblivious of the strides that have been achieved in Nigeria’s aviation sector courtesy of President Buhari.
“The installation of airfield lighting on this particular runway will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of airlines and reducing the cost of operations as well as enhance the possibility of increasing flight frequencies. It will also help reduce turnaround time, which makes for more operational efficiency, and both the operators and passengers will benefit from it”, the AON Vice President asserted.
With the Airfield Lighting installed, the unnecessary 10-20 minutes spent and fuel burnt when an aircraft lands on the international runway before taxiing to the domestic, will end and generally, it will make for aircraft usage maximisation.
According to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), this is part of efforts aimed at improving safety and efficiency of flight operations at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
During the period, there was no disruption to flight operations as the International Airport runway was used for all inbound and outbound flights operations.
Meanwhile some stakeholders have equally appealed that the adjoining taxiways on the runway be also given attention.