Managing Director of Centurion Securities and member of industry think tank group Aviation Round Table (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) has floored state in the federation that claim not to have enough to pay salaries but choose to embark on white elephant airport building projects.
He made his thoughts known in an email to Nigerianflightdeck.com where he said that they proponents of this move have little or no understanding at all of how the aviation industry works and called on them to retrace their steps.
According to Ojikutu, the whole idea is a waste stating that there are 29 airports in the country out of which 7 are state-owned and even those airports are not viable as they depend on a lot of subventions from government in an economy where basics are supposed to be prioritized.
Of the seven airports state-owned there are Ibom Airport Uyo, Asaba Airport, Bauchi Airport, Jigawa Airport among others.
Ojikutu said,” For any state to be thinking of building airports now, is not only a misplaced of priority, but a lack of understanding of the industry and its working systems. Right now, there are 29 airports in Nigeria, 20 are owned by the federal government, 7 are owned by state governments and two are privately owned.”
“Only two out of all these, Lagos and Abuja are viable. The two alone, handle over 70% of annual passengers and air traffic. Beside these two, Port Harcourt may come next with passenger traffic of just a little above one million. All others record passenger traffic of about half a million or below annually.”
He expatiated further, “An airport is considered viable if the annually internal generated revenue is sufficient to maintain all the services it provides and that include; salaries of the airport staff, power generation, external services bills, etc. In truth, only Lagos and Abuja can be said to be viable and the excess revenue from these airports are used to service the others.”
“Govt should attract commercial airlines to these airports by removing or reducing air navigational charges on the routes to these airports and the landing and parking charges at the airports. Improve the night landing facilities to increase the demands on air and passengers traffic to these airports. “
“Sell them to willing buyers to reduce the overhead cost on airport maintenance. Airlines too, should attract road travellers to air travelling by flying low-fare tickets to these airports. These are viable options for government to increase the sources of corporate taxes and reduced overhead cost.”