Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, has stated that inefficient use of Nigeria’s international airports and their low operating capacities informed government decisions to concession them to achieve optimal results.
The explanation came few days after a virtual stakeholders meeting where he had noted that the international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano were not designed for international operations, assuring that prospective private handlers of the terminals and facilities would inject funds needed to transform the airports’ infrastructure.
According to Sirika, the Federal Government remains committed to upgrading the country’s airports and making them viable through concessions.
He stated that airport upgrade is part of his aviation master plan, which aims to revamp the industry through active participation by the private sectors and make it self-sustaining. The objectives of the aviation master plan include establishing a national carrier; providing ready maintenance, repair and overhaul centres; setting up an aviation leasing company; establishing five airport-free zones; and establishing an agro-allied cargo terminal.
Sirika said that the airports have not been designed as international hubs but are operating as separate international and domestic terminals. He pointed out that there is an urgent need for infrastructure investments and modernisation as all airports require investments in runway maintenance, navigation aids as well as terminal facilities.
“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.
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.