Nigeria's largest city welcomes business aviation operators with new full-service FBOs. Just be careful moving about on the surface.
Welcome to Lagos
The only airport serving greater Lagos is Murtala Muhammed International (DNMM), located north of Lagos in the community of Ikeja. “It is fairly good by African standards,” Universal's Linton observed, “with no unusual procedures. There's good radar coverage, and it's being expanded to the greater Lagos area.” (Jeff Lane added a caveat, however: As controllers often won't turn on the surveillance radar, don't always expect to hear “radar contact,” and as a backup, have the local VORs tuned up on your nav radios.) Murtala Muhammed is a 24-hr. airport with no slot requirement. Peak traffic times are in the afternoon and evening.
DNMM has two parallel runways oriented 18/36, the longest 12,794 ft. long by 197 ft. wide (see “City-at-a-Glance” for details), and the airport's elevation is 135 ft. Both runways are equipped with ILS approaches. Pilots report that while the runway surfaces are in good condition, there are many patched areas among the taxiways that should be taxied around, if possible. There are two FBOs on site, and the airport is equipped with a general aviation terminal located in the domestic wing of the passenger terminal.
The FBOs, only recently opened, are operated by ExecuJet Aviation Group and Evergreen Apple Nigeria. Both are full-service facilities boasting executive lounges, office space, on-site customs, business jet maintenance, lav and water servicing, and lots of ramp space for parking. Additionally, ExecuJet offers hangaring.
Upon landing, business aircraft will be directed either to the FBOs or the general aviation terminal where passengers and crew may clear customs. According to Linton, if operators provide their handling services with copies of the relevant customs documents, local agents can then coordinate customs in advance of arrival, ensuring an expeditious clearance process.“They see a lot of business aviation aircraft and are familiar with all types,” Linton claimed. Visiting aircraft will be parked at the FBOs or general aviation terminal, if space permits, or directed to remote parking areas after disembarking passengers if the FBO or general aviation terminal ramps are congested. It is recommended that operators bring their own chocks and tow bars for their aircraft, as ramp equipment is occasionally sparse.
Fueling is conducted on the FBO or general aviation terminal ramps, but operators advise to allow lots of time for the process as the airlines often receive preference. For expedience, it's advised to have the operator's local handler coordinate fueling with the on-site fuel broker, SO Aviation, and to make sure that all fees (including landing, parking, servicing, etc.) at the airport are invoiced directly to the operator's handing service to ensure accuracy in charging.
Two years ago, another pilot, David Fussell of Rhema Aviation in Tulsa, who crewed aChallenger 601 into Lagos, reported on the NBAA “Feedback” page that “Your skill and fortitude will be tested here.” He advised operators to bring engine inlet and other airframe covers, claiming that while on the ground at DNMM the aircraft will be “blasted” by exhaust, wind, dust and trash and be “filthy” after a three-day stay. Speaking to BCA, Fussell also warned flight crews heading into Lagos airspace that controllers often will not immediately acknowledge radio calls. “The radio traffic can really be intense,” he said. “You will hear pilots making repeated calls, their voices getting more and more frustrated. Just keep calling and be patient; eventually they'll answer you.”
If having passengers picked up on the ramp (often a security requirement for “high-value” individuals), the operator will need to arrange for vehicles with airside access passes. While good brand-name hotels can be found downtown on Lagos and Victoria Islands, crews generally choose to stay as close to the airport as possible; a Sheraton just outside the gates is a popular hostelry. (It is being reported that ExecuJet has proposed building a hotel on airport property specifically to accommodate flight crews who wish to stay close to their aircraft.)
On departure from the country, the operator's handler will process outbound customs, as it is mandatory to clear CIQ when leaving. Both crew and passenger luggage is subject to screening both ways.