Why some Nigerian airports cannot have 24 hours operation – MD FAAN
Rabiu Musa Yadudu, the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has explained the reasons why all Nigerian airports may not be able to operate for 24 hours.
Yadudu said the possibility of having 24 hour operations in all the airports across the country was not feasible because of the enormous costs to keep them operational when just one or two flights operate to the aerodromes.
Yadudu who spoke to journalists in Lagos on Wednesday said no airline or airport authority would keep an aerodrome functional when there is no commensurate profit to be made from the venture.
Yadudu cited an instance where an airline wrote to the authority to operate 24 hours to Yola, stressing that after getting the letter, the authority wrote back to the carrier to give an assurance that it would mobilize equipment, personnel and resources to the facility to aid seamless operations for the airline only for the carrier not to pursue the interest any longer.
His words, “The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) wants all airports to operate 24-hours. We are service providers and we would like to make money like every service providers do. Someone has to pay for the 24-hour service. Nobody keeps airport open 24 hours for an airport that is not busy and has just one, two or three airlines going to the place”.
He noted that even in Europe and other developed places, so many airports still operate sunrise to set airport operations.
” An airline once wrote to FAAN that it wanted to operate to Yola airport. We looked at it and said we were not going to deny them the service. Having to run a 24-hour operation is good but it takes a lot of effort and it costs so much.
“We asked the airline for the feasibility study of running the service for at least six months. We do not want a situation where we start and less than two weeks you stop. We waited for the airline and we never saw the airline again. A lot goes into it like fueller. We don’t open airports for 24 hours any how”, he added.
Most airline owners are operating their aircraft at half their capacities because of the absence of the requisite Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at most of the nation’s airports to guide pilots’ land and take off at night and during adverse weather conditions as is the trend all over the world.
Obiora Okonkwo, chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, had lamented that one of the major challenges of the daylight airport is that it forces airlines to limit their operations to those airports to 6:30 pm.
Okonkwo said no airline enjoys delaying or cancelling flights but the inability to land and take-off from these airports on or after 6.30pm is causing airlines huge revenues as they have to cancel flights more frequently.
“Eighty percent of Nigerian airports are daylight airports. This sunset regime puts a lot of pressure on our operations and our schedule because you have to schedule to make sure you start your business and end before sunset. You might not believe that all the local airports here in Lagos are on sunset operations, it has to be looked into.
“There must be proper extension, these airports are there and if you don’t have the facilities to operate up to a certain time like 11pm-12pm and it costs the operators huge sums of money. If airlines operate till 11pm or 12pm, they will be at liberty to spread flight intervals and that will increase on-time performance and customer confidence,” he said.