The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has disclosed that part of the government’s aviation roadmap is the upgrading of the airports in the country and make them viable.
He also said through the concessioning of the airports, due to paucity of government funds to undertake the repairs itself, the private handlers of the terminals and facilities will turn the derelict state of the airports to what Nigerians will be proud of.
According to him, “The airport upgrade is part of the Aviation master plan that seeks to revamp the aviation sector through the active participation of the private sector and make it self-sustaining.
“Some of the core objectives of the aviation masterplan seeks to establish a national carrier; have a ready maintenance, repair and overhaul center; establish an aviation leasing company; establish five airport free zones; and the development of an agro-allied cargo terminal,” Sirika said.
The Minister who made the federal government plans known at a virtual stakeholders meeting, asserted that the four major airports in Nigeria located in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano were not designed as international facilities. He added that the airports were not designed as international hubs but operate separate international and domestic terminals.
“The airports in Nigeria are currently operating in a suboptimal environment as there is relatively low asset utilisation due to the limited opening hours of other smaller Nigerian airports; lack of terminal capacity as the airports fall short of gates, stands and check-in desks.
“An overstretched facility is the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos terminal, built in 1979 for 200,000 passengers, but currently processes nearly eight million flyers,” he said.
He further pointed out that there was an urgent need for infrastructure investments and modernisation as all airports require investments in runway maintenance, navigation aids as well as terminal facilities.
The minister also said the Aviation master plan include a comprehensive upgrade of aviation infrastructure in the country and a major component of this vision is the proposed concession of the airports to start with the four international airports. This will make them viable and generate revenue to the government coffers through the optimal usage of all of the facilities.
“The immediate solution is to concession the airports and activities are on to make this happen through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). The inefficient use, and the airports operating below expectations was why the facilities had been put up for concession”.
“The facilities to be concession are the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos: international and cargo terminals; and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja: international, domestic and cargo terminals”.
“Others include the Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt: international, domestic and cargo terminals; and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano: international, domestic and cargo terminals.
“Concession of the airport facilities mean the government has relinquished management to private investors who automatically become responsible for developing the airport and making sure it measures up to global standards. The airports are expected to be improved upon to meet modern demands which most Nigerian airports lack and the operational efficiency and profitability of the airports will thus increase,” Sirika revealed.