President/ CEO of Sabre West Africa, Dr. Gabriel Olowo has queried the motive behind the proliferation of state owned airports in Nigeria, especially the haste to commission incomplete infrastructure calling on state governments to focus on other things and leave aviation be.
Dr. Olowo who also doubles as the President of Aviation Round Table Safety Initiative ( ART) equally stated that state governments’ building more under the guise of security landing is just a farce as the country already has good alternate airports for security landings.
He made his thoughts known while responding to questions about the aviation industry stressing that records show Nigeria has just one viable airport, the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and these state built airports are maybe just good politics, but bad economics because they are unviable and are eventually passes to FAAN increasing its burden.
Just yesterday, the outgoing Minister of Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika broke ground for the construction of yet another new terminal and expansion of Umaru Musa Yar’adua International Airport Katsina State, the airport has a maximum of about three commercial flights every other day.
Meanwhile there have been chatters from Ekiti, Abia and some other states to commence buildings of airports in their respective states, while Ebonyi state has equally completed its own airport and is launching with free flights for three months to try and drive traffic.
Olowo in his submission said, “State airports are not necessary, maybe they are good politics, but they are bad economics. The only viable airport we have in Nigeria is MMA, which is feeding the rest, including Abuja. Go and check the books of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). So, how can you start an airport in the name of security landing? There are good alternatives to all the airports in Nigeria right now that you can go within 10 to 15 minutes if you need an alternative. Must you start a new airport because of an alternative?
He delved further trying to X-ray some of the proposed airports asking,” And what is an airport anyway? Is it just a runway? They went to commission one runway in Ogun State recently. No single building. When an aircraft lands on the runway, do you expect it to discharge its cargo on the runway? Where are the terminal buildings, operational offices and the other facilities? Ibadan Airport is there, how can someone think of another state airport? Ibadan Airport can serve Osun, Oyo and Ondo, but where are the good roads?
“If you are even building them for cargo purposes, the number one linkage for cargo is road and rail, which must be very efficient to deliver to the airport. Where are the rail and road that link Ilesha with Osogbo, Aye Coker and others? From the rail line, then it goes to the trucks and from there to the airport – intermodal connection. Can an airport operate in isolation? It is not possible.”He surmised.
Concluding, Olowo posited,”So, for whatever reasons the governments are trying to construct more airports, I think it has other objectives. They have ulterior motives. For the absence of nothing to do, please, the State governments should leave aviation alone; they should focus on some other things. This is a sector you don’t joke with at all.”