The Directory General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Capt Musa Nuhu has said that many of the airports built by state governors do not have what it takes to meet regulatory requirements, stressing that the more airports that are built by the state governors, the more regulatory burden they put on the agency.
Some of these burdens according to the NCAA boss include financial stress on virtually all the agencies including the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and other allied agencies.
Speaking at the second annual National Transport Technology Conference and Exhibition with theme, “The Viability of State-Owned Airports: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward,” held virtually on Tuesday said, “We have been stretched beyond our capacity. How does an airport generate revenue when it operates once a week? Nuhu further stated that most of the airport projects are unviable and not thought through, hinting that the Federal Government is saddled with the responsibility of inheriting the aerodromes after they had been built.
His words, “Most of the airports are unviable; built without traffic in mind and leaving the burden to the Federal Government to shoulder. Airports should be a catalyst for economic development. It has to be well thought through. It becomes a problem when an airport will not generate economic returns.”
Guest speaker and the immediate past Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf lamented that there are 32 airports in the country with only four of them seen as viable. The viable aerodromes are the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos which generates about 50 percent of the entire revenue, the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja, the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), and the Port Harcourt International Airport.
He stated further that many of the airports are heavily subsidized by their state governments just to give an indication that they are working.
President, of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye attributed the lack of funding to the reason many of the state-owned airports are not thriving, stressing that no business will come and open a business when the airport only does one or two flights every day.
An aviation journalist who was one of the discussants at the Webinar, Wole Shadare alleged that many of the airports embarked upon by state governments are conduits for fleecing their different states, noting that out of the several airports projects by the states, only a few are worth the huge amounts expended on them.
Shadare expressed sadness that many of the state governors after building their airports transfer them to the FAAN which only makes revenues from four airports and expend all it makes on the four viable airports on the rest.
He further stated that despite the obvious failure of some airport projects embarked upon by some state governments to take off effectively, more state governors are still desperate to build unviable aerodromes in their domains.
In this circumstance, he said the regulatory authorities are “forced” to spend revenue earned from four viable terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano to subsidize operations in the 28 other airports managed by FAAN.
From estimation, not less than N374 billion have so far been expended on such projects by the states, development, observers reckon as a mere conduit to siphon public funds than for economic interests.
Even as most of the aerodromes currently operate far below the requisite capacity, the Edo State Government was recently granted approval by the Ministry of Aviation to site another airport in the northern part of the state, besides the one in Benin City, the state capital.
Stakeholders are worried that the rate at which state governments were going about it, virtually all the states in Nigeria would have at least an aerodrome in the next five years. While very few of them are viable, many others have been described as ‘white elephant projects.
Other speakers included the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, Managing Director, Anambra International Airport, Mr. Marin Nwafor, General Secretary, Aviation Round Table, and Mr. Olumide Ohunayo.
Others are the President of NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, Commissioner for Aviation Cross Rivers State, Capt. Eno Inah (Rtd) and Commissioner for Transport, Anambra State, Mrs. Patricia Igwebuike.