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FG plans to go ahead with airport concessioning

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The federal government plans to concession nation’s airports under the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to create an opportunity for the private sector to participate in airport infrastructure development in Nigeria under the PPP arrangement.

Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika

The government said the concession process would start with the first four major airports in the country located in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt for a maximum of 30 years to ensure they are run efficiently and profitably Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed this on Friday when he opened the Legend Lagos Airport Hotel operated by Hilton at the Quits Aviation Terminal, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

The opening of the exotic hotel, which was graced by the President of Hilton Worldwide, Christopher Nasette, the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, Chairman of Oando, Mr Wale Tinubu, among others, was described as unique.

Sirika before he cut the tape to open the hotel disclosed that the new airport terminals in Abuja and Port Harcourt built by the Chinese under the $500 million facility from China Exim Bank would be inaugurated before the end of October.

The minister observed that many Nigerians have taken to the social media to celebrate the new terminal at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana, but they did not know that the country has better airport terminal facilities in Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja and Lagos, adding that the four terminals would be unveiled soon, starting with Port Harcourt and Abuja this October.

He, however, stressed that despite the building of the four facilities and an additional one at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, the government had realised that it cannot effectively build and manage airport infrastructure, hence the decision to concession them.

“I will like to say that within the first quarter of next year, Airbus A380 aircraft would be landing in Nigeria. We have facilities to receive such an aeroplane. But this year before the end of this October, we would be opening the terminal in Port Harcourt which is ready even to the apron operations. We will also be opening the terminal in Abuja. They would be ready for operations.
“There are many other terminals we will open. I am sure my friends in the media have not forgotten that the intent and purpose of this government regarding aviation is to concession these airports. We don’t believe that government can run these facilities and run them very well. We must hand them over to the private sector,” he said.

The minister said Nigeria would soon record the highest passenger traffic in Africa as it was presently recording 16 million passengers per annum and the country strategically located to become a natural hub for West and Central Africa.

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Travel & Tourism

NCAA sanctions four airlines

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has sanctioned four erring operators for violations. Its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, who stated this yesterday, did not identify the operators. But, he said they are scheduled and non-scheduled operators.

Adurogboye said infractions by the airlines were discovered during on the spot inspections carried out by NCAA Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI).

NCAA inspectors, the NCAA spokesman said, found out a number of deficiencies on the airlines, including non-implementation of training programmes of maintenance personnel as required, irregularities concerning helicopter flight identification, deliberate violation of regulations, performing maintenance programme without necessary approval and using outdated manual.

These, he said, were found to be in violation of the civil aviation regulations.

Consequently, the various operators were sanctioned with fines ranging from N1.5 million to N2 million.

One of the operators involved in a deliberate violation of the regulations had its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) suspended for 180 days.

However, he said the authority has ensured that the affected personnel in question in the employment of one of the airlines are trained accordingly.

Adurogboye reassured stakeholders that NCAA would keep ensuring that Standard Operating Procedures [SOPs] are strictly followed.

But, aviation unions – Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) – have vowed to declare a state of emergency in NCAA from tomorrow, if their demands for staff promotion are not met.

The unions stated this at the weekend in Lagos, claiming that the NCAA management has taken them for granted on issues of promotions for the agency’s workers.

Chairman, NCAA Joint Action Committee and NUATE Chairman, NCAA branch Lucky Izebhokun said the agency’s management would be looking for trouble if they do not promote the workers.

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China to build 216 new airports

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China aims to construct 216 new airports by 2035 to meet the growing demands for air travel, reports say.

China had a total of 234 civil airports at the end of October, and this number is likely to hit 450 by 2035. This is part of China’s ambition to become an aviation power, reported People’s Daily, China, quoting Reuters.

Data shows that demand for passenger air transportation in China will surpass the US by 2035, representing almost one-quarter of the world’s total flights.

Airports in China managed 552 million travellers last year, which is expected to grow to 720 million by 2020.

With one billion new passengers and 1.6 billion total passenger traffic in the next two decades, China is set to become the largest driver of the global aviation industry, according to the International Air Transport Association.

With great market potential and the consumption upgrade trend, China is driving development of international aviation in the Asia-Pacific, and the country is expected to maintain its steady growth in the next two decades, surpassing the US to occupy the top spot in the global aviation industry, IATA said.

SEE ALSO: Pains, gains of government’s intervention in failing airlines

More than half of new passengers are expected to come from the Asia-Pacific, the report pointed out, thanks to stable economic growth and rising household income.

“Among all the nations in this region, China will become the country with fastest growing aviation market in the next 20 years, due to its prospective one billion new passengers and 1.6 billion total passenger traffic,” the report said.

Driven by China’s expected annual five percent growth, the Asia-Pacific will become an important impetus for international aviation industry.

“China is the most dynamic aviation market in the world, with a prosperous economy and a growing middle-income group, and there is strong potential for the global aviation industry in Asia,” according to Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA.

“The rapid development of China’s aviation industry is a result of the country’s reform and opening-up, as well as its active participation in the international market,” said Brian Pearce, IATA’s chief economist, who added that China has injected new vitality into the world aviation industry.

The report also predicted that the net profit of the global air transportation industry will reach $35.5bn, with an expected 4.59 billion passengers and 65.9 million tons of cargo volume.

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Why Air Nigeria was suspended

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The federal government Thursday explained that the national carrier which was earlier billed to kick off in December was suspended temporarily because the process to actualise it was delayed.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has also also stated that Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) will start bearing arms within the next three months.

The government said the transaction advisers did not complete the process on modalities on the ownership of the new airline in time.

Sirika who made this known yesterday, hinted that, in recent months, several misinformation, factual errors, insinuations and fabrications have been peddled in both social and print media on the project.

He informed that, Lufthansa, which was the first approved transaction adviser was rejected due to its outrageous demands which included opening an escrow account, refusal to pay tax and demand for 75 percent up front payment.

Sirika who spoke yesterday at the 5th aviation stakeholders’ forum in Abuja, also disclosed that another major factor that stalled the process was the inability of the federal government to provide sovereign guarantee for the procurement of 30 airplanes estimated at $300 million to be paid in installment till
2020.

According to the minister, “Estimated funding requirement for the establishment of the project is 300million dollars up to 2020. Initial start–up capital of 55million dollars made up of 25 million dollars for deposit for new aircraft and 30million dollars for working capital from June to December 2018.

Saraki said Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel of FAAN will start bearing arms within the next three months.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Sirika made the disclosure yesterday at the fifth aviation stakeholders’ forum in Abuja.

“Within the next three months, we will get the FAAN AVSEC to start bearing arms like their counterparts in the Transportation Security Agency of the United States, ” he
said.

The minister recalled the Turkish Airline incident in 2016 where some aggrieved passengers overpowered AVSEC officials at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and gained access to the tarmac.

Sirika also cited the recent occurrence at Sokoto Airport where some political supporters forcefully entered the tarmac, stressing that these actions were clear security breaches.

He said the personnel would be provided with new uniforms, sniffer dogs and other things that would enable them discharge their responsibilities of securing and safe guarding airline officials, passengers and other airport users. “So, for us, our focus is to ensure that we are secured and safe. Aviation is not just about building terminals because safety is one of the most critical aspect,” Sirika noted.

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Air Peace scales up operation

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Air Peace at the weekend took delivery of its fifth Embraer 145 Regional Jet, assuring that the development has deepened its capacity to relaunch its flights to Sokoto and start its Katsina service.

The carrier, which had earlier received four of the six 50-seater Embraer 145 Regional aircraft it recently acquired, said its goal of unifying Nigeria through air transport and extending its flight operations to unserved and underserved cities was fast being realized under its subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper.

A statement signed by Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Chris Iwarah said the latest delivery touched down at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at the weekend.

The new aircraft, marked 5N-BUX and named Udoka Ozor (Nee Onyema), the statement added, would be deployed on the Sokoto and Katsina routes in about two weeks’ time.“We are pleased to announce the arrival of our fifth Embraer 145 aircraft in Lagos. The aircraft, which is marked 5N-BUX and named Udoka Ozor (Nee Onyema), landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos about 6.30 p.m. on Sunday, October 14, 2018.

“We have now received a total of five of the six Embraer 145 aircraft we recently acquired as part of our fleet expansion project. We are delighted that with the arrival of the aircraft, we will relaunch our Sokoto operations and start our Katsina service in the next two weeks.

“Air Peace is committed to our no-city-left-behind project under our subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper. We are honoured that our involvement in the aviation industry is fulfilling our goal of uniting Nigeria through air transport, creating thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities and lifting Nigeria’s economy.

“We assure the flying public and Nigeria that we will continue to deliver exceptional flight services and create massive employment opportunities for the people with our domestic, regional and international operations. We are indeed grateful to our valued guests and solicit their continued support as we take greater steps to make our dear nation proud in the global aviation community,” Air Peace said

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