Four months ago, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) shut the facility to all flight operations for the installation of the category three Airfield Ground Lighting system on the runway, allowing all flight operations to use the Runway 18/Right usually used by international airlines.
According to FAAN, this was part of the efforts aimed at improving the safety and efficiency of flight operations at the Murtala Muhammed Airport.
The project, which commenced effectively on July 8, 2022, was expected to last for 90 days. Consequently, Runway 18L/36R was closed to flight operations during that time.
The airport is central to the operations of all domestic carriers. Daily operations begin and end in Lagos for most aircraft. Without runway lighting for night operations, the runway is shut at sunset, forcing the domestic terminal and airlines to wind down operations at dusk — the peak air business globally.
The Lagos Airport domestic runway, which was re-commissioned in 2006 after refurbishment and rehabilitation, has been without runway lights.
This made it difficult for flights to take off or land on the runway at night, forcing domestic airlines to land at the international wing at night and then taxi to the domestic side.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had, earlier this year, approved N2.3 billion for the supply and installation of airfield ground lighting for the MMIA, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
The carriers, over the years, may have spent over N6 billion on the amount they burn to taxi from the 18/R runway whenever it is past 6 pm as air traffic controllers forbid them from landing on the 18/Left.
It would be recalled that the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo had, in 2006, approved the sum of N19.5 billion as an aviation intervention fund to secure the country’s skies after a series of plane crashes that claimed many lives.
From this, a contract worth N3.56 billion was awarded to P.W Nigeria Limited in 2006 for the resurfacing and expansion of runway 18L/36L by 150 metres. The cost of the airfield lighting was not included in the contract.
The FAAN in 2011 came out and blamed the non-installation of the airfield lighting at the Murtala Mohammed domestic airport runway 18L on a court order slammed on the agency by an aggrieved party stopping the Federal Government from going ahead with the job.