ABUJA, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Nigeria plans to close the airport in the capital Abuja for six weeks from February to repair its badly damaged runway, the government said on Tuesday, after airlines threatened to stop flying there.
Nigeria has delayed infrastructure investment for decades, slowing the development of Africa’s biggest economy.
Flights to Abuja will be diverted to Kaduna, about 160 km to the north and linked to the capital by a pot-holed overland road.
Abuja airport will reopen after six weeks, but the repair work will last six months, the transport ministry said.
Closing the airport will “allow (German builder) Julius Berger to carry out total re-construction work on the badly damaged airport runway,” the ministry said in a statement.
In October, Dubai-based Emirates stopped flying to Abuja, blaming the state of the runway among other factors, according to the ministry.
A South African Airways plane was damaged in August while landing at Abuja, Nigerian media have said. Several airlines have reduced flights to the capital or threatened to stop flying there unless the runway is fixed. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing and Felix Onuah; Editing by Hugh Lawson)