Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) (IATA: LOS, ICAO: DNMM) (Yoruba: Pápá Ọkọ̀ Òfurufú Káríayé Múrítàlá Mùhammẹ̀d) is an international airport located in Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria, and is the major airport serving the entire state. The airport was initially built during World War II and is named after Murtala Muhammed (1938–1976), the fourth military ruler of Nigeria.
The airport was built during World War II. West African Airways Corporation was formed in 1947 and had its main base at Ikeja. De Havilland Doves were initially operated on WAACs Nigerian internal routes then West African services. Larger Douglas Dakotas were added to the Ikeja-based fleet from 1957.
Originally known as Lagos International Airport, it was renamed in the mid 1970s, during construction of the new international terminal, after a former Nigerian military head of state Murtala Muhammed. The international terminal was modeled after Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The new terminal opened officially on 15 March 1979. It is the main base for Nigeria’s largest airline, Air Peace, as well as for several other Nigerian airlines.
Murtala Muhammed International Airport consists of an international and a domestic terminal, located about one kilometre from each other. Both terminals share the same runways. This domestic terminal used to be the old Ikeja Airport. International operations moved to the new international airport when it was ready while domestic operations moved to the Ikeja Airport, which became the domestic airport. The domestic operations were relocated to the old Lagos domestic terminal in 2000 after a fire. A new domestic privately funded terminal known as MMA2 has been constructed and was commissioned on 7 April 2007.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, the international terminal had a reputation of being dangerous. From 1992 through 2000, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) posted warning signs in all US international airports advising travelers that security conditions at Lagos Airport did not meet ICAO minimum standards. In 1993, the FAA suspended air service between Lagos and the United States. The decision affected Nigeria Airways and American Trans Air.
Following Olusegun Obasanjo’s democratic election in 1999, the security situation at Lagos began to improve. Airport police instituted a “shoot on sight” policy for anyone found in the secure areas around runways and taxiways, stopping further airplane robberies. Police secured the inside of the terminal and the arrival areas outside. The FAA ended its suspension of direct flights to Nigeria in 2001 in recognition of these security improvements. Through its joint venture with Nigeria Airways, South African Airways (SAA) inaugurated a flight from Johannesburg to New York via Lagos in February 2001. The airline reserved roughly a third of the seats on the Boeing 747 for Nigeria Airways. However, SAA terminated the service the following March, stating that it was unprofitable. The company added that in an attempt to increase passenger counts, they had tried to convince Nigeria Airways to reduce their seat allotment, but the latter refused One month later, Nigeria Airways began its own route to New York with a leased Boeing 747. Nevertheless, the airline had to suspend the flight in January 2003 because creditors had seized one of its last planes. In July 2006, North American Airlines launched nonstop service to New York using Boeing 767s.
By 2010, the FAA had granted the airport its highest safety rating. That year, the airport served 6,273,545 passengers.
Recent years have seen substantial improvements at Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Malfunctioning and non-operational infrastructures such as air conditioning and luggage belts have been repaired. The entire airport has been cleaned, and many new restaurants and duty-free stores have opened. Bilateral Air Services Agreements signed between Nigeria and other countries are being revived and new ones signed. These agreements have seen the likes of Emirates, Ocean Air, Delta and China Southern Airlines express interest and receive landing rights to Nigeria’s largest international airport.
On 6 September 2012, then Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, announced that the Federal Government of Nigeria approved a N106 billion loan from the Exim Bank of China to construct 5 new international terminals, including a passenger terminal in Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Construction began in late 2013, and the new international terminal was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on 22 March 2022. The new terminal has the capacity to process 14 million passengers annually.