Most state-owned airports are not commercially viable, but necessary – MD FAAN

Article Summary

  • Most state-owned airports in Nigeria are not commercially viable but are necessary for long-term planning.
  • The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) says the state-owned airports are an additional burden on its finances and projections.
  • Some aviation stakeholders argue that appropriate regulations must be enforced to ensure safety and compliance to international standards, while others believe that having airports in all states of the federation is necessary for the economic development of the country.

 The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu has said that most of the airports constructed by some State Governments are not commercially viable but are necessary for future infrastructure development.

Speaking to Nairametrics in Lagos earlier this week, Yadudu described the airports as mistakes in the short term but necessary for long-term planning.

What you should know

In Nigeria, no fewer than 15 out of the over 43 airports and airstrips are state-owned. Most aviation stakeholders have argued that it’s unjustifiable to have those many state-owned airports because they have fewer than 200,000 passengers per annum.

  • Some of the airports are President Muhammadu Buhari International Airport, Onueke in Ebonyi State. It was commissioned last month by the outgoing State Governor Engr. David Umahi at the sum of N36 billion.
  • The Anambra Cargo Airport which cost N10 billion
  • he TBayelsa International Airport which cost N70 billion
  • The Ekiti cargo airport cost N20 billion and is uncompleted.
  • The Ibom Airport cost N25 billion.
  • The Abia Airport which cost N40 billion and is currently abandoned.
  • And the MKO Abiola International Airport in Osun State which cost N40 billion and is uncompleted.

Others are Ogun Cargo International Airport which cost N40 billion, Lafia Airport cost N40 billion (uncompleted), Wachakal Airport, Damaturu; N18 billion (uncompleted), Auchi Airport, Edo State and Dutse International Airport, Jigawa; N20 billion.

Some of these airports were handed over to the Federal Government through FAAN after construction.

But FAAN is complaining

FAAN said the airports are additional burdens on its finances and projection

According to Yadudu, almost all the state-owned airports are not sustainable, stressing that the agency would need the support of the Federal Government to handle them. He said:

  • “This is a very complex situation. It is not a straightforward situation because to us at FAAN, the easiest option is for us to tell them not to build more state-owned airports, but whatever we do at FAAN, we look at the short and the long terms.
  • “Look at the long term, you will say the states should build the airports. Instead of the money to be lost, having infrastructure is one thing, we may not be able to have all the infrastructure one day, but for now, let the government; the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), FAAN, Ministry of Aviation and others sit down on how to contend or manage these airports because we should do.
  • “An airport that needs N300 million a month and they have just 1,000 passengers a month there is no magic that can make them sustainable and FAAN doesn’t have the money. I think in the national interest, let’s come up with a plan; Federal Government support, intervention and others to make sure that if you build it if it is not workable now, one day, it will be sustainable because gradually, it will happen.”

This aviation expert disagrees

Meanwhile, Mr Charles Umoh, an aviation consultant, said there was nothing wrong with having airports in all the states of the federation.

Umoh explained that the step would help the industry to expand, but cautioned that appropriate regulations must be enforced by the NCAA to ensure safety and compliance to international standards. He said:

  • “There is nothing wrong with having more airports that bring safety. So, if the government can build airports in all the states, it will help the aviation industry to expand. I would even like a situation whereby the State Government can collaborate with the Federal Government because the State governments cannot go it alone.”

Besides, Alex Nwuba, the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria (AOPAN) said that the aerodromes would act as a critical way for the economic development of the country in the future.

Nwuba stated that the facilities may look like “mistakes today,” but they are a mistake on which the country would grow in terms of infrastructure and ease of movement of goods and passengers.

But, Comrade Olayinka, Abioye, the former General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), described the rush for construction of additional airports by State governments as aberration and fraudulent.

Abioye insisted that what most of the states required were good road networks and train services for the transportation of farm produce and commuters.

He insisted that most of the State governors did not carry out adequate feasibility studies before embarking on the airport project.

 

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