If you are planning to make a trip into out of Nigeria by air, this post is for you. What is an international airport?In simple terms, an international airport is one that allows the arrival and departure of flights to other countries. This implies that an international airport must have an international terminal and a customs post. International airports also accommodate domestic or local flights.
Several features identifies an international airport and differentiate it from domestic airports. In this post, we will be discussing the different international airports in Nigeria.
International Airports in Nigeria and their Locations
So far, Nigeria has 26 airports under the control of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Of this number, there are 8 international airports. The truth is that not all of the 8 are fully functional as international airports at the moment.
There are also other airports that are not under the management of FAAN. Along with these, there are airstrips and military-owned airports. Below is a list of international airports in Nigeria.
- Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
- Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja
- Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu
- Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano
- Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers
- Kaduna International Airport
- Sadiq Abubakar III International Airport, Sokoto
- Ilorin International Airport, Kwara
We will discuss each of these airports in a little more detail in the paragraphs below.
Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport is also known as MMII. This is the major entry and exit point for international flights in Nigeria. MMII is located in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State, Nigeria.
Did you know that this airport was constructed during the Second World War? It was later named after one of Nigeria’s former Heads of State, General Murtala Muhammed. When it was established, it was called the Lagos International Airport.
The design of the international terminal of this airport is similar to the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This terminal was commissioned on March 15, 1979.
Over the last decade, there has been a lot of renovation carried out at both wings of the Murtala Muhammed Airport. Several non-operational and malfunctioning structures and equipment have been fixed. Considering the fact that this is a major hub, there are several duty-free stores and restaurants here.
Some international airlines have signed landing rights with the FAAN to land here. The most prominent include Emirates, Delta, Ocean Air, and China Southern Airlines. However, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport serves as home to the biggest airline in Nigeria, Arik.
Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport
This airport is located in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. It serves this location and a couple of States in close proximity. The airport was named after Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first President who also served as the first indigenous Governor-General.
This airport plays home to several bodies including the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. While the airport was constructed in the year 2000, it was opened to the public two years later.
A management contract was signed with the Abuja Gateway Consortium to manage the airport for 25 years. This contract was to the tune of US$101.1 million. Part of the requirements of this contract was the construction of private car parks, an airport hotel, a bonded warehouse, and shopping malls.
This contract was revoked in 2008 by the President at the time, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Several years later, the Nigerian government approved plans to renovate the airport and make it world standard. To do this, the airport was closed for six weeks between March 2017 and April of the same year.
President Buhari recently commissioned a new terminal that should process about 15 million passengers each year. Some of the international carriers that land here include Air France, Emirates, Egypt Air, Lufthansa, Air Senegal, etc. This airport also accommodates domestic flights from Aero Contractors, Peace Air, Med-View, Arik, and Overland.
Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu
Akanu Ibiam International Airport is located in Enugu State and it serves several cities in this region. Some of these cities include Enugu, Okigwe, Awka, Abakaliki, Onitsha, Orlu, Ogoja, Nnewi, Otukpo, and Afikpo.
This airport derives its name from a statesman and renowned doctor, the late Akanu Ibiam. Ibiam was a native of Afikpo in Ebonyi State. This airport was in dire need of renovation and was closed by FAAN in 2010 for the first phase of the process. The first phase is long over and the airport is currently undergoing a second renovation phase.
For now, some of the airlines that land here include Aero Contractors, Air Peace, Ethiopian Airlines, and Med-View Airline. Arik Air also lands here. It is expected that the number of airlines plying this route will increase once the second phase of the renovation is over. Currently, this airport is the least busy of all the international airports in the country.
Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano
This airport has been in existence before Nigeria gained her independence in 1960. At that time, it used to be a station for the Royal Air Force. After Nigeria’s independence, the airport was renamed after the famous stalwart and elder statesman Aminu Kano.
Just like the airports above, this airport also has both domestic and international wings. The first aircraft to land in Nigeria landed here in 1922. This makes this airport the oldest of the lot.
Operations started here in full in the year 1936. At the time, it was used as a refueling stop for long flights between Africa and Europe. However, with the invention of newer aircrafts, there was no need for such fuel stops anymore.
As the economy of Kano State began to dwindle and gradually crawl toward demise, many international carriers stopped landing here. As of 2012, the only European airline serving this route was KLM. Most international flights were during the Muslim pilgrimages taking pilgrims to and from Mecca.
Some of the airlines currently landing at this airport include Eritrean Airlines, Flynas, Egypt Air, Badr Airlines, and Sudan Airlines. Others include Ethiopian Airlines, Tarco Airlines, and Tchadia Airlines.
Port Harcourt International Airport
This airport is set in the Omagwa community of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It has both international and domestic terminals. The new international terminal was only recently commissioned by the Nigerian President in October 2018.
As of 2009, this airport ranked as the third busiest airport in the country serving 1,081,587 passengers. It was shut down in August 2006 for renovation purposes. According to the NCAA, this was needed to fix the dilapidated runway and construct a fence around the airport.
While the government had dragged on the repairs for several months, their hands were forced by an electrical fire. As a result, all domestic flights to this airport were diverted to three airports in the region. This includes Akanu Ibiam International Airport (Enugu), Margaret Ekpo International Airport (Calabar), and Sam Mbakwe Airport (Owerri).
During this period, international flights were redirected to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Repairs began in January 2007 and were expected to run for eight months. However, work was put to a stop in June because of the safety of the engineers.
At the end of that year, the airport was opened, only to a limited capacity. This held until 2008 when the new CAT III lighting system was installed.
Some of the international airlines visiting this airport include Cronos Airlines, Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines. Local airlines that land here include Med-View, Air Peace, Aero Contractors, and Arik Air.
Kaduna International Airport
This international airport is not fully functional as an international airport. It is located in Kaduna, Kaduna State.
The airport was commissioned in 1982 and is regarded as one of the oldest airports in the Northern Region. For now, there are only local flights to this airport. Some of the airlines landing here include Azman Air, Arik Air, and Aero Contractors.
Sadiq Abubakar III International Airport
This airport is also known by the name Sultan Saddik Abubakar Airport. It is located in Sokoto and it serves Sokoto State and its surrounding cities.
Just like the international airport in Kaduna, this airport only operates local flights for now. Some of the major airlines landing here include Med-View Airlines, Arik Airlines, and Aero Contractors.
However, during the Muslim Hajj, flights go to and fro Mecca. Most of these flights are carried out by Med-View Airlines.
Ilorin International Airport
The Ilorin International Airport is the smallest international airport on this list. It serves Kwara State and its surrounding States.
For now, the airport only services domestic flights which are Ilorin to Abuja and Ilorin to Lagos. During the Muslim pilgrimage, flights go to and from Ilorin to Mecca. Three local airlines ply the Ilorin domestic route including Overland Airways, Arik Air, and sometimes, Med-View Airlines.
Also Read: Most Widely Spoken languages in Nigeria
There are several other international airports in Nigeria not under the FAAN or not operating international services at all. If you want to travel into out of Nigeria, you can choose any of the airports closest to you. However, most flights pass through either the airport in Lagos or the one in Abuja.
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