• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Our airports can be better

For many Nigerians, this election is one that will determine the fortunes of the nation and the way forward for its battered masses. For others, Saturday’s outcome will inform their emigration decisions.   Uyi, a management consultant in Abuja says he is waiting for the results of the election to determine if he would have to leave the country or stay

The beauty of an airport is beyond the physical structures. It is often the sum total of the experience passengers have when using it for their travel needs.

The totality of an airport revolves around features like the type of amenities and convenience provided, the maintenance culture, the behaviour of airport personnel towards passengers, the security apparatus, and the ease of access of amenities as well as innovative services available.

Although the Nigerian government has in recent years embarked on the upgrade of the airport structures, including completing and unveiling a well refurbished Abuja airport structure, but bad reviews have not stopped pouring in. Indeed, the persisting consensus is that Nigeria has some of the worst airports in the world.

Corruption at the airports has become so bad that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) now warns passengers not to let themselves be extorted by airport officials and to report those who do. Such an announcement is an oddity in other climes. But the exigencies of the times perhaps make it necessary. While the strange announcement may seem like a good idea to airport authorities, it still has not solved the problem as many more passengers report that they continue to be extorted by officials.

The state of an airport can have a correlation to the size of a country’s tourism sector, which stimulates economic growth and enables citizens to generate income to bring them out of poverty.

A quick search of Lagos Airport reviews on Google reveals what is almost obvious to any frequent traveller. Nearly everyone who has used the airport has had a very bad experience.

On one of the review websites, Sleepinginairports.net; 99 percent of the reviews were negative. The same is true for reviews on other global airport review sites such as airlinequality.com, tripadvisor.com, and skytraxratings.com. Lagos Airport is assigned a 2-star rating on Skytrax Ratings.

There are complaints about both departures and arrivals. For departures, the issues range from lots of immigration desks that are unmanned, poor air-conditioning system for waiting areas in the airport to dull and unexciting duty-free shopping areas and waiting areas for boarding, tedious luggage loading, grim-looking toilets, absence of lifts and escalators, and tedious drive-in process.

Read also: FEC approves N3.5b airport facilities for Abuja, Lagos and Kano

For arrival, the problems are equally many. These border on criminal extortion and outright rude personnel. Other issues include lack of seating facilities, poor air-conditioning system from the NCDC desk, all the way to immigration, monitors displaying wrong information for transit passengers, and unhelpful airport staff who are more interested in getting money from arriving passengers.

It is important to appreciate here that an airport is the first point of call for any visitor to any country, including Nigeria. An investor looking to invest in Nigeria first gets a picture of what type of country he or she is hoping to invest in from the airport. Therefore, we align with experts who describe airports as much more than places to board planes, attend an in-transit business meeting, or do some duty-free shopping.

The state of an airport can have a correlation to the size of a country’s tourism sector, which stimulates economic growth and enables citizens to generate income to bring them out of poverty.

Airports are among the largest investments a city and region make. The number of passengers and flights at an airport has a direct relation to the economic output of the country, wages and income. This is why more and more airports are being upgraded and modernised, providing comfort to passengers and supporting a country’s economy.

In the light of the immediate foregoing, Nigeria must do more than a facelift. There needs to be a culture of excellence entrenched and exhibited by all airport officials. This has become the new way of doing things at all airports across the world. And in this respect, our own airports must live up to global standards if we want our economy to grow.