The closure beginning on 8 March will see flights diverted to an airport in Kaduna, a city about 180 km (110 miles) to the north, with additional security provided for shuttle busses travelling along a highway that has been the scene of high-profile kidnappings.
“I was conscious of the sheer size of dilapidation of our critical infrastructure in our aviation industry and especially the most critical ones such as the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja,” junior aviation minister Hadi Sirika said as he announced the closure at a meeting.
Built in 1982 with a planned 20-year life span, Sirika said the “entire structure of the runway has failed” and was “unsafe for operation.”
Helicopter services will also be available between Kaduna and Abuja
In 2015, a travel website rated the Nigeria’s Port Harcourt International Airport the worst in the world, describing it as “the dirtiest and most corrupt airport in Africa.”
Nigeria’s aviation sector took a beating last year as currency controls made it difficult for airlines to obtain sufficient funds to pay suppliers, with many curtailing and some suspending operations.