GETTING NIGERIAN AIRPORTS VIABLE

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Delegates at the Airports Business Summit and Exhibition in Abuja recently


A Second Runway Necessary?

Part of the revelations made at the Airports Business Summit & Exhibition held in Abuja recently is that approval has been secured for the construction of a second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja (NAIA). Furthermore, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria's (FAAN) Airport Manager, Mallam Mahmud Sani suggests the need to give all FAAN's international airports more than one runway each.

However, there are opinions that the Abuja airport does not need a second runway judging by the Airports Council International's APEX (Airports Excellence) audit conducted on Abuja airport which declared that the Abuja airport does not need a second runway due to the level of passenger throughput it currently has.

The Managing Director of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, who was represented by Mr. Sadiku Rafindadi, the Director of Commercial & Business Develoment, reveals that most of the 21 airports managed by FAAN are operating at a loss with the exception of Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt; with Lagos airport alone accounting for 50% of FAAN's revenue. He lists the problems facing the agency to include dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate funding and maintenance, lack of multi-modal means of transport etc. He says the airports need remodeling even as they are being prepared for concessioning.

One of the factors militating against the development of the nation's airports is the lack of maintenance culture, as is also the case with numerous abandoned government projects and dilapidated structures. Mr. J.C. Ezenwakwo, former Director of Operations of FAAN discloses that the issue of a second runway for NAIA had been raised since the launching of the airport, but met with serious hiccups.

Non-Aeronautical Revenue

Participants at the Airport Business summit note that Nigeria through FAAN should do more to develop the land side of the airports to such standards that would make them attractive to the public, tourists and investors, and not just for passengers. According to them, several airports globally make a huge portion of their revenue from non-aeronautical activities.

Need For Viable Airlines

IATA's Area Manager South-West Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun, observes that Africa recorded zero haul losses in 2016, which is very commendable. He stresses that this should be sustained, even as more airlines in Nigeria are joining the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Registry. He pledged IATA's continued support to Nigerian airlines.

However, Dr. Fatokun believes Nigerian airlines are not performing well in their financials. According to him, filling the aircraft does not mean profitability, and airlines must be able to at least break even. He identifies the absence of data such as passenger movement, airlines' performance, point of purchase of tickets, most popular destinations, tourism traffic etc. as a very critical deficiency in Nigeria's aviation industry.

Safety

Dr. Fatokun observes that it is possible for Nigeria to direct all airlines to be IOSA-certified, noting that the NCAA regulates based on SARPs (Standards and Recommended Practices). He adds that the Abuja Declaration of 2010 gave all African airlines till the end of 2017 to come on the IOSA Registry, which would make the industry safer. He says that IATA provides training and workshops for airlines to come on board. He notes, however, that some African airlines are not sustaining this status. He discloses that IATA is in talks with the NCAA to include this in their safety requirements.

An aviation consultant and former MD of FAAN, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, says Nigerian airports are in their present state because they are not being managed as business entities. He adds that if airports are not properly managed it would lead to the gradual death of such airports.

 

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