By Sumaila Ogbaje
Mr Isaac Balami, the President National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) said the construction of a second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was not negotiable.
Balami, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the need for a second runway for the airport was long overdue.
He noted that it was unacceptable for an airport in a nation’s capital to have a single runway.
According to him, having two runways in an airport like Abuja is not a luxury but a necessity for safety.
Balami said that it was an insult on the country to have shut Abuja airport for six weeks due to renovation.
According to him, no nation’s capital anywhere in the world has an airport with only one runway.
“The issue of a second runway for Abuja airport is not negotiable, because this is something that closed down the airport in the nation’s capital for six weeks.
“It is an insult and it shows that something is wrong and something urgent needs to be done, because if an aircraft drops down on the only available runway, it will take hours to evacuate it.
“We don’t pray for it but if it happens, there will be a big problem.’’
On the ailing Arik Airline, Balami urged the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to engage capable hands to revive the fortunes of the airline.
He noted that AMCON, by its mandate was not trained to manage airlines, adding that airlines could only survive through prudent management.
NAAPE president reiterated the call for adequate supports for domestic airlines to enable them compete with their international counterparts. NAN recalls that the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika recently said that provision had been made for the Abuja second runway in the 2017 budget awaiting approval by the National Assembly.
He also said that the runway could be constructed in 24 months if approved in the budget.