The capital city of Africa’s most populous country is to be cut off by air for six weeks because of runway repairs — with the recommended alternative airport in territory on the Foreign Office no-go list.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has announced that Abuja airport will close between 7 March and 19 April 2017.
During the closure, airlines have been invited to land and take off at Kaduna airport, 100 miles north of the capital. But the latest travel advice from the Foreign Office shows that this airport is deep inside "no-go" territory. The FCO warns of the risk of “significant attacks” in Kaduna state, with the city itself “particularly at risk”.
The aviation minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, has inaugurated a security sub-committee aimed at keeping passengers safe in transit between Kaduna and Abuja.
But British Airways has announced that it will cancel all its flights to Abuja during the closure.
The airline said: “We have been informed that the runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja will be closed for extensive repairs.
“Unfortunately this means that we have to cancel all flights to/from the airport for that period of time."
BA currently has a daily flight to and from Heathrow. The airline is offering passengers a full refund, the chance to alter the flight date, or to fly instead to Lagos or Accra.
It said: “We hope that we can restart our normal flight schedules from Heathrow to Abuja on the evening of 19 April and from Abuja to Heathrow the following morning on 20 April 2017.”
The US State Department says that American officials in Nigeria are allowed to travel to Kaduna only if they ask permission in advance: “US officials and their families must receive advance clearance by the US Mission for any travel to or from Kaduna, Kano, and Port Harcourt, including overland transit to airports outside Abuja.”
Besides British Airways, six other international airlines currently fly to Abuja: Air France, Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, South African Airways and Turkish Airlines.