Mallam Aminu Kano international Airport (MAKIA)

Current President of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) Dr. Gabriel Olowo, has queried the rush for establishment of more airports by State governments, claiming that most of the existing aerodromes are not commercially viable.

This is just as he has described plans by Abia and Edo State governments to build additional airports in their states, as good politics but bad economics stating that government should prioritise the needs of the people ranging from basics of life like Food, Shelter, Health,Education etc

Speaking with correspondents in an interview on Tuesday, Olowo observed that most of the airports apart from the ones in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt are not commercially viable.

He observed, “Airport construction goes beyond acquiring hectares of land without perimeter fencing , compromising safety of operations ab initio , constructing substandard runways that will be washed away in one or two raining seasons. It is a highly capital intensive project that should be embarked upon after a robust bankable projection.

Olowo emphasised that airports are not only expensive to build because of the many facility linkages but also expensive to maintain stressing that there must be short and long term enforceable plan by succeeding governments before embarking on airport development if government were to be a continuum.

“One governor quitting and another abandoning the project such as revealed during the launch of Ogun state agro airport runway is lamentable.

Olowo further advised that efforts should be geared towards developing hubs at the major airports in the country, especially at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos with so many Terminals in order to attract more traffic and airlines.

He said facilities that would make the existing airports a hub are still lacking in most of the country’s airports and mentioned the absence of concourse light train network to connect Domestic Terminals and International Terminals and vice versa both in Lagos, Abuja ,Port Harcourt and Kano.

He also mentioned that installation of modern technology facilities like self- checking service kiosks, etc, are also lacking.

He said: “For Lagos Airport for instance to become a hub, first class and world-class airport transfer connection facility is necessary. Concourse light trains should be built to connect the terminals rather than allowing Transit and or Transfer passengers to check out of the customs, burst into the precarious mammoth crowd in rain and shine with their baggage in order to pick a taxi to the next connecting terminal. This is very absurd and a shame at MMA in 45years of its existence since 1978.

Transit / Transfer passengers dread Lagos Airport especially in the evenings.

Olowo continued,”There exist too many toll gate check-points rather than the many agencies to share data and file a single watch-list with security. This is a major disincentive for hub development. Passenger facilitation is made more cumbersome rather than the global effort at making it seamless.

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