• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Stakeholders urge FG to consider all 22 airport terminals in its concession plans 

Benin Airport

Stakeholders in the aviation section have called on the federal government to consider all 22 airports managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in its current airport concession plans.

In a communique issued by Olumide Ohunayo the spokesperson, Aviation Round Table Initiative, (ARTI) on its webinar held recently, the participants enjoined the Ministry of Aviation to ensure that the terminal
The concession process is transparently conducted in compliance with the extant laws and due process to avoid post-agreement controversies and rancour as previously experienced.

In addition, they asked the government to consider the totality of all the 22 airport terminals in its current concession plan.

According to the communique issued at the webinar on “Nigerian Airport Concession: How Far So Far?” it stated that “The session acknowledged the necessity for the government to concession airport terminals in order to reduce the financial burden on the Federal Government for airports Infrastructure development management.

“The concession of the terminals should not just be a departure from the status quo but with an objective to deliberately drive regional competitive hubs as well as mega carriers that will operate in those hubs.

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“The session was informed of the recruitment of a strategic communication consultant who is expected to disseminate important information on the concession process for the benefit of all stakeholders. Therefore, the government should define and clarify what is to be concessioned within the airport.”

Ohunayo further stated in the communique that all existing legal, labour, and other complications arising from previous experiments (Nigeria Airways (WT), Nigerian Aviation Handling Company NAHCO, etc.) should be conclusively resolved.

He stated that there is, therefore, a need for the government to allay the fears of the unions and employees of FAAN
with regards to the planned concession, adding that the process must be fair and transparent.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika at the session stressed that the government realized that the airports remain “national assets” and as such, they cannot be sold.

Sirika said for the airports to develop infrastructure wise, they have to be given to private investors because the government has no money to continue to pump into the airports.

The airports slated for concession include the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano airports.

Sirika who briefly joined the webinar said: “In our wisdom, we feel that the assets (airports) belong to 200m people and they cannot be sold. However, for it to be improved upon and for the good service to be delivered to people, certainly it has to be that it is given to private hands to improve upon it at a predetermined number of years.”

“Concessioning is controversial. Doing it badly is worse than not doing it at all. Transparency is critical in ensuring the success,” Nick Fadugba,  former Secretary-General of African Airlines Association, and one of the panelists at the webinar.

The webinar was attended by stakeholders including Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation; Harold Demuren,
former Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Wale Babalakin, chairman of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), among others.

Fadugba stressed the need for the concession to be done the right way, taking into cognizance what obtains in other parts of the world, noting that the Federal Government cannot continue to fund airport development.

“Concession is a logical way from my perspective but the big challenge is to do it transparently and do it well,” he said.

Gbenga Olowo, President of ART, said there should be a deliberate plan to make each of the airports to be concessioned a regional hub with each hub having a mega carrier with a minimum of 50 aircraft.

“In Miami, there is a mega player; in Atlanta, there is a mega player, in Chicago, the same thing. I recommend four mega carriers by 2025,” he said.

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