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 modelled after Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The new terminal opened officially on 15 March 1979. It is the main base for Nigeria's largest airline, Arik Air.
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 a dangerous airport. From 1992 through 2000, the US Federal Aviation Administration 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. During this period, security at LOS continued to be a serious problem. Travelers arriving in Lagos were harassed both inside and outside of the airport terminal by criminals. Airport staff contributed to its reputation. Immigration officers required bribes before stamping passports, while customs agents demanded payment for nonexistent fees. In addition, several jet airplanes were attacked by criminals who stopped planes taxiing to and from the terminal and robbed their cargo holds.
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. By 2010, the FAA had granted the airport its highest safety rating.
In 2010, the airport served 6,273,545 passengers.
Recent years[when?] 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.
Arik Air's head office is in the Arik Air Aviation Center on the grounds of the airport.Aero Contractors has its head office in the Private Terminal of the Domestic Wing at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
At one time Nigeria Airways had its head office in Airways House on the airport property. Prior to its disestablishment Afrijet Airlines had its head office in the NAHCO Building on the grounds of the airport.
Source: Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Aviation Sector Reports (2010-2013, 2014, Q3-Q4 of 2015, and Q1-Q2 of 2016,)
Accidents and incidents
On 20 November 1969, Nigeria Airways Flight 825 crashed while on approach to Murtala Muhammed International Airport. All 87 passengers and crew on board were killed.
Early in 1981, Douglas C-47B 5N-ARA of Arax Airlines was damaged beyond repair in an accident and was subsequently reduced to spares.
On 26 September 1992, a Nigerian Air Force C-130 Hercules crashed three minutes after take-off in the nearby Ejigbo canal. Three engines failed, high take-off weight. All 158 people on board were killed.
On 11 November 1996, ADC Airlines Flight 86, a Boeing 727-231 was approaching the airport whilst avoiding a potential collision the 727 pilots took evasive action but overcompensated: within sixteen seconds the plane was flying upside down approaching Mach 1. The inverted aircraft disintegrated on impact, near Ejirin, killing all 153 passengers and crew.
On 28 November 2003, Lagos control cleared Hydro Air 501, a Boeing 747-200 from Brussels Airport for a landing at Runway 19R. The aircraft ended up hitting a stack of asphalt, then slewed left with its first engine in contact with the surface until the nose wheel came to rest in a drainage ditch. The Ministry of Aviation report concluded that the cause of the accident was that the aircraft was cleared to land on a runway that was "supposed" to have been closed.
On 3 June 2012, Dana Air Flight 992 crashed in close proximity of the airport. The plane, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, is reported to have banked sharply prior to attempting to land at LOS, subsequently crashing in the nearby residential area of Agege, killing all 153 passengers and crew on board and 10 others on the ground.
On 13 February 2018, Delta Air Lines flight 55 en route to HartsfieldJackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, suffered a fire, which was caught in the left hand engine. The Airbus A330-223 aircraft stopped its climb at 2,000 feet and activated the fire suppression, returning to Lagos for a safe landing about 8 minutes after departure. The aircraft was evacuated, 5 people received minor injuries as result of the evacuation.