24 hours airport operation not feasible –FAAN

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By Chinelo Obogo

The enormous cost to keep all airports across the country operational makes it non feasible and difficult to have 24 hours operations, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Musa Yadudu, has said

During a courtesy visit to the League of Airport Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) on Wednesday, Yadudu said some airports have just one or two flights operating daily, as such, nobody or airport authority would keep an aerodrome functional when there is no commensurate profit to be made from the venture.

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He cited an instance where an airline wrote to the authority asking to operate 24 hours to Yola and that after getting the letter, the authority wrote back to the carrier, giving assurance that it would mobilise 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. He noted that even in other developed countries, so many airports still have sunrise to set airport operations.

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.

“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.

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“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. At present, apart from the Lagos and Abuja airports, which operate late night flights up to 11.30pm –12 midnight because of scheduled international flights, the other airports cannot function beyond 6.30pm as they are shut down due to the absence of ILS facilities,” he said.

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Former spokesman for liquidated Nigeria Airways, Mr. Chris Azu Aligbe recently said the country’s airports are closed by 6:00pm, adding that an airline would have to induce the service providers to run into the night.

“That is not a sustainable system for aviation business. There is a need to transform the airport sub-sector to develop the airlines. That is why I support airport concession. We need a standard that will give us the desired change. And until we move out of the cycle of doing things the old way, we will not get it right. Why generate funds from one airport to run the other 18 that are not viable to sustain themselves? If they cannot survive, then let them die,” Aligbe said.

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