Nigeria on Monday formally announced the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in the capital Abuja.
The airport will be closed for six weeks, beginning March 8, in order repair the runway which is in a shocking state of disrepair.
Reports say the closure could delay the return of president Muhammadu Buhari, who has been in London for medical treatment since January.
Flights are being directed to a smaller airport in Kaduna, 250 km north of Abuja, but, most international airlines have rejected the plan saying its not safe for flight operations and are re-routing flights to Lagos until the repair works are done.
Passengers will be ferried free of charge by a bus on a roughly 3-hour trip guarded by security agents where kidnappings have become recurrent in the past few years.
The Abuja airport is a key lifeline for the west African economy. According to Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper, it recorded 2.26 million passengers in the first half of 2016.
The closure comes at a time that Nigeria’s aviation industry is in disarray and the country is dealing with recession.