Ethiopian Airlines, the largest African airline, on Thursday, moved its operations to the newly inaugurated terminal building at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, constructed by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC).
Ethiopian Airlines is the second international airline to move its operations to the new terminal, inaugurated on Dec. 20, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Asky Airlines was the first to start flight operations from the terminal on Jan. 6.
Mr Sani Mahmud, the Regional Manager, North Central, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said that the terminal had been equipped to handle all the international carriers.
Mahmud, who is also the Airport Manager of NAIA, said that the terminal had been equipped with fibre backbone to provide free internet services to passengers and airport users.
He expressed optimism that other airlines such as Emirates, Lufthansa, Egypt Air and British Airways would likely move their operations into the terminal in the not too distant future.
The regional manager said that the issue of connectivity had been the reason given by some airlines for the delay in moving their operations to the terminal.
He, however, added that “we feel great that the terminal has come alive after it was commissioned last year and one of the biggest airlines, Ethiopian Airlines has moved its operations into the terminal.
“We are grateful for their cooperation and we hope that very soon, others will join.
“When we have these two giants here, others will be eager to come.
“Hopefully, all the airlines will come in within a week because the connections have been done. The duty free shops are in progress because the management wants a uniform-style that will be of international standard and we are ready to provide world class services here.”
Meanwhile, the Traffic and Sales Manager of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr Tilahun Tedesse, said that the airline was determined to continue to champion air transport services in Nigeria.
Tedesse said that the airline hoped to expand its operations, considering the space and facilities in the new terminal, adding that it currently operated about 100 routes from Abuja.
He added that “we just started today in this new terminal and we will continue to be an example to other airlines.
“If you remember the last time this airport was closed we moved to Kaduna to serve Nigerian people and Nigerian passengers and this time also, we have been asked to start using this facility and we have started today.
“Asky is our partner and we asked them to start first, but we are the first to commence international long haul from here to connect our passengers to Asia, Europe and America.
“We didn’t have a good space at the old terminal but here, we have enough space, many check-in counters and the air conditioner is perfect.
“We usually deploy our big capacity aircraft to this airport when we were using the small space, but now, I believe we will be able to deploy aircraft like the Airbus and B777 series.”
A passenger, Dr Ayodeji Samuels, a medical practitioner, commended the government for the new terminal, saying it was befitting for the seat of power like Abuja.
Samuels urged the authority to provide adequate signage and self service facility within the terminal to enable passengers to have seamless experience.
“This is more befitting for the Federal Capital Territory than what we used to have and we hope that operations will go on smoothly and most importantly, this improvement should be maintained.
“It would be good to have appropriate signage to direct passengers where exactly they should go and there should also be self-service kiosks where passengers can check themselves in before approaching the counter for boarding pass.”