SOME of the challenges bedeviling most of the nation’s airports are decades old and of no fault of anybody but government’s abandoning these airports for years at a stretch leading to deterioration of safety and comfort infrastructure. Over the past few years however, the Federal Government has woken up to its responsibilities and through the Federal a Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) it is trying to bring the airport to par with airports all around the world.
Managing Director of FAAN, Engineer Saleh Dunoma who was guest of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) took a general overview of the airports in the country, explaining where the airport is and what it plans to put in place to advance the nation’s gateway.
Dunoma spoke on indebtedness, revenue for the airport authority , security and safety among other burning issues and was positive that FAAN is undergoing a paradigm shift in how it was and is now operating.
The FAAN boss who explained its revenue generation drive putting aeronautical revenues at the forefront, gave reasons for this while stating that the airport authority is looking at a time to develop its non-aeronautical revenues to be at par with some major airports which strive on non-aeronautical revenue
Dunoma said,”Yes, aeronautical revenues are very straight forward and very easy to capture; these are services that are much defined and the charges are also well-defined. That also makes it easy for us to collect. A lot of our revenues come from aeronautical sources, but that is not to say that we don’t have non-aeronautical sources. However, we are trying to develop aeronautical revenues this is because we want to concentrate on our core activities, which is providing facilities to flight operations and passenger movement.”
“In most cases, in order for us to free ourselves from distractions, we try to see that the non-aeronautical revenues are concessioned out; so, we concession out the car parks, toll gates and others so that FAAN can concentrate on their core issues. That is providing and managing the airports operations. I know there are some countries that have high non-aeronautical revenues and aeronautical too. Nigeria is moving towards that gradually and by the time we design projects like aerotropolis, bring about a lot of developments on the landside of the airport, we would be seen to have developed the non-aeronautical sources of revenues.”
“We have issued out pieces of land for construction of hotels and other giant projects that we feel by the time they are completely completed and commissioned, w are going to earn more revenues from non-aeronautical sources. We are working hard on that, but we want to concentrate on the aeronautical sources so that we make sure that we provide the services that we are expected to provide to airlines and passengers.”
The FAAN boss on security explained that challenges in security were always evolving and that FAAN has to continuously evolve to meet the trends of the reality on ground especially with the global terror threats as well as other threats including recent incursions into the restricted areas.
Dunoma said,”An airport is a public place; there are certain areas that are restricted and there are some of the areas that are allowed for public to have access. As you know, we have various categories of people coming to the airport apart from the airline staff, you still have other people that are providing services. So, that is why we have the airport access control system.”
“Apart from that, since it is a public place, there is a limit to what you can do in order to stop people from getting access to some areas they are not supposed to access. So, we have a lot of measures in place and one of them is of course the proper fencing of the airport to restrict access to the place, we have perimeter patrol and there is technology also, which is for surveillance.”
“To some extent, we have these facilities in all the airports, but security challenges always come up in different forms. If you address this challenge, the challenge will come back again in another form. So, the only way out is to improve on our technology. ”
“As we speak, there are things going on at Lagos and Abuja airports to make sure that we cover all the restricted areas with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras. This is ongoing; in Lagos, it is 80 per cent completed and it is about 70 per cent completed in Abuja. We will soon commission this and once it is commissioned, our people will sit up and monitor these restricted locations. This is going to help us a lot.”
“In addition to that, we are buying another technology, which is a mobile system that has cameras on it and can see up to seven kilometers. So, we will position it and even at night, it has cameras that will watch all the sensitive areas of the airport; the runway, apron and the other restricted areas.”
“By the time we have all these technologies in place and we improve on the perimeter road, we mend some of the broken fences, the security will be watertight and nobody will be able to have access to the restricted areas and if you try to access it, you will be caught because of the technology put in place.”
“The CCTV cameras will not just be installed in Lagos, but in the five international airports across the country. The CCTVs have always been there, but you know that the facilities keep on growing; in Abuja and others, we are building new terminals and as we keep developing the airport, we have to keep developing on the security apparatus we have at the airports too. It is a continuous thing and a priority for the government.”
In the area of safety, he said that FAAN is doing all it can around the airports while stating that there is no runway flooding on the airports as they are designed with adequate drainage systems.
On flooding he said, “I don’t think there are floods in our runways because one of the critical things in runway pavement is the drainage system. You drain the runways in two directions; you know, runway is most times 60 meters wide. The centre is slightly high so that water does not stay on the runway at any point in time and most of the runways are properly designed for drainage. If it is raining heavily, the airlines know their safety limit; they either land or avoid landing at a particular point in time. Our runways are designed in such a way that they are properly drained.”
Dunoma further spoke on the current situation at Enugu Airport stating that himself, the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika met the governor of the state on the issues pertaining the runway incursion by the market and safety issues concerning television masts erected along the path and stated that the issues were currently being addressed.
“Of course, the market is there, but you know the government has a programme of extending and expanding the runway. This programme started sometime in 2011 and we have successfully extended the runway, but we could not finish the approaches because of land issued,” he said.
“However, the land issue is not within our purview, but within the state government and the minister has made this issue known to the governor. In fact on the day we visited him, the governor gave a directive right there and then that all the encroachments on the approach should be stopped.”
“He also gave a directive to Enugu State Radio, which has a mast there to immediately prepare and remove the mast there and that included Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). He has also promised us that he’s going to look into the relocation of the market and if these issues are addressed, then we will continue with the approach. The runway is wide enough because it is 60 meters wide.”
As soon as all these are addressed, we are going to go back, finish the runway and the installation of the lighting system and that makes the airport 24 hours.