Adeola Akinremi writes that a new General Aviation Terminal (GAT)at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, built at the cost of N648 million offers new experience to air travellers in Nigeria
The smell of sweet success is now in General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. At least Jite Brown, a Warri based petroleum Marketer who frequents Lagos can now heave a sigh of relief. “I am surprised. This is the least of my expectation within this short period. I am strolling around to see more. I was here last month and to see GAT transformed this way is remarkable.’’
Brown says it is value for money too. “The flight ticket is going up all the time and I think this complements the fare and it actually encourages passengers. We can see value for money paid here now. Any passenger can sit relax here and quickly think through his business with time gained waiting at the terminal and not the odd experience we used to have.”
More space and improved passenger flow with the aim of saving time, improving the passengers’ experience and blocking leakages in government tariff, GAT is now a reality of that dream Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah calls, ‘proudly owned Nigerian terminal’.
“It is inconceivable that anyone would not only contemplate, but also hold fast to the jaundiced belief that a nation as big and great as Nigeria ought not to progress beyond having a terminal like MM2.” Oduah said in a statement last week in Lagos.
At the remodelled GAT unveiled last week, new shops, new services, faster formality clearance and a new and welcoming architectural environment welcome passengers. The vendors are already installing their products at allocated places.
Although to be fully operational, it will not be until the middle of November as a norm with terminal opening for test-run, but anxious passengers who are no longer at ease and quick at embracing the new GAT that provides all comfort are now using the arrival part of the terminal.
Before moving on to their departure lounges, passengers, according to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN), can now enjoy a richer choice of retail opportunities with innovative build to last model of a terminal that allows passengers a journey through shopping stores.
FAAN General Manager for Coorporate Communication, Mr. Yakubu Dati said, “The vendors and owners of supermarkets are now installing and it will be a rewarding experience for everyone.”
With full complements of security, Yakubu says, “Security audit have been carried out and we are applying most sophisticated security apparatus that will be hard to beat by any intended criminal.”
Covering a total floor area of 4, 165.85 square meters, the new GAT built with all round transparent glass gives passengers natural daylight. It offers restful views of aircraft taxi to runways from the Apron.
At the departure area which covers an area of 829 square meters, 1, 551 square meters is dedicated exclusively to passenger checkpoint operations with the full-size security checking points to meet the new expectations of today’s passengers .
The new building is all about serenity and stillness away from the rambunctious terminals of old. The new GAT also comes with attractive toilet facilities with full complements of hand dryers. Facilities like wheelchair ramps, standard conveyor belts, new trolleys and loud speakers are being installed at the new GAT.
Air travellers and airlines are supposed to use the terminal from 4 November onwards. GAT can handle twelve flights at once (or 1500 passengers per hour), and 2.8 million domestic passengers are expected to travel through the terminal yearly.
Although, FAAN authority says the new GAT is a world standard, it is not immediately clear whether increased in number of children travelling by air are given consideration to in the design of the new terminal as in other parts of the world. Experts say statistics of children who travels by air nowadays is fast catching up with the numbers of adult and it is expected that designs takes into consideration children category amongst the passengers to care for them specially. For instance some terminals now have a dedicated reception service for families traveling with children, especially during the school holidays. The security staffs at such terminals are trained on how to talk to younger children. They are saddled with responsibility such as explaining every stage in the security check process in entertaining ways. They also do provide every child with a free booklet containing a story, games and clear explanations to help them understand travel formalities.
Besides that, the traffic gridlock at GAT is something FAAN will need to address for passengers full comfort at the remodelled GAT. The current car park is obviously too small.
Now, in the first phase of what is expected to show up in 11 other locations across the country, FAAN Managing Director, Mr. George Uriesi said, “in 2011 we had 4.1 million domestic passengers in Murtala Muhammed airport of which 1.8 million use the old general aviation terminal, the capacity of that terminal was for 400,000 passengers per annum but was processing 1.8 million passengers.
With this facility which is built in a total of eleven months at a total cost of N648million, 2.8 million passengers are expected to travel using this facility annually.”
The Federal Government is revamping 11 airports which include the Murtala Muhammed Airport international terminal, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Port Harcourt International Airport and Kaduna airport. Other airports include Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, Benin airport, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Yola Airport and Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos.
In the end, the former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Mr. Donald Duke may be getting some response to his request over the Nigeria Airport. In May this year, he had quipped, Who are the people in charge of the airports saying, “We are not asking for a Dubai-type of airport in Lagos. All we want is a clean and descent environment