Flights to Abuja after airport closure will most likely be difficult. The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport(ABV) will be closed for six weeks in March, while it’s runway undergoes renovation. During the time, the Kaduna International Airport is expected to serve travellers going in and out of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The project will, of course, stretch the resilience of the Nigerian economy and both domestic and international passengers will be subjected to hardship. Trust it’s worth the trouble but that won’t stop travellers from having their doubts.
Although the project has barely begun, learning how to cope with flights in and out of Abuja is of utmost importance to forward thinkers. Social media has been flooded with suggestions, tales, ideas and memes about the proposed shutdown window needed to secure air travellers’ lives while the entire runway facility is renovated. Before you start connecting Abuja flight either by road or rail, find out how to cope with the situation.
— Nigeria Newsdesk (@NigeriaNewsdesk) January 18, 2017
— Political Adviser KD (@KdPolitical) January 18, 2017
1. Bid farewells to evening flight
Forget this catch phrase: “I have to be in Abuja by tomorrow morning”. Have a flexible plan for your journey and arrive daytime. Don’t swallow too much of the sound bite about the provision of security along Abuja-Kaduna road and take the safety of your own life into your hands. Thousands are being slaughtered in Southern Kaduna in a crisis that has a hint of religion and ethnicity. What about the good-old cases of robbery? This is not the time to be caught out in the dark while trying to find your way to Abuja.
2. Abuja-Kaduna by rail, road or helicopter
Take this with a pinch of salt. The journey from Idu Mega Station in Abuja, to Rigasa station is quite efficient but over-patronised. The coaches have a capacity of 320 passengers per trip each conveying about 1000 people in a day. Boarding could be chaotic and disorganised and the train could be crowded. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says train, executive buses and helicopter services will be provided as an alternative. What’s not certain is the mode with which the government plan to operate this scheme. You will likely find yourself in a position where you have to give up luxury just to get home, not minding the rush hour. It may be hard to find a seat at some point so hang on to a handrail, try the accidental kabe-don, go with the flow; just be motivated to get to your final destination.
3. Fly during Off-Peak days and time
If you’re looking to jet out for relaxation and you have a flexible schedule, travel on a Saturday and return on Tuesday when the bulk of holiday goers have moved away from the city and you could save up on airfare. While the duration of the diversion to Kaduna airport isn’t conclusive, it is better to travel at a low season when traffic won’t be a problem. Early risers may benefit from flying early in the morning and finding a convenient connection to Abuja.
4. Stay motivated during flight delays
Domestic flight just got tougher. Nigerians, though unhappy about flight delays, must now learn to stay motivated as there’s likely to be more delays depending on the level of preparedness of the Kaduna Airport. Take a stroll about the departure lounge, keep your contacts at the other end updated, strike up a conversation with other travellers, read good books and listen to good music while you wait for your flight.
5. Road trips are your new connection
International airlines aren’t satisfied with the choice of Kaduna as alternate landing route for the FCT. Among reasons that’ve been cited are security concerns, scarcity of aviation fuel and the possibility of overcrowds. They’d prefer Lagos, Kano or Port-Harcourt. If foreign airlines were to stick to their guns, we have few tips for travellers flying into the country looking to catch a glimpse of the countryside on a road trip to the FCT. The journey from Kano to Abuja will take roughly 5 hours. The dual carriage on the Kano-Abuja route is in good shape – aside from security challenges (fingers crossed, the Federal Government will provide cover for airlines and passengers). Lagos or Port-Harcourt to Abuja is a long, long distances by road, best done via domestic flight which, yet, leaves you at the mercy of the Kaduna Airport.
Whichever airport you land, a road trip from:
- Kano – Kaduna – Suleja -Abuja (bearable)
- Lagos – Benin – Auchi – Okene – Lokoja – Abuja (over 9 hours and bad road)
- Lagos – Akure – Owo – Ibilo – Okene – Lokoja – Abuja (over 9 hours and bad road)
- Lagos – Ilorin – Jebba – Bida – Abuja (bad road)
- Port-Harcourt – Onitsha – Okene – Lokoja – Abuja (over 9 hours)
- Port-Harcourt – Aba – Okigwe – Ofugu-Inye – Nasarawa – Abuja (over 11 hours)