By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has assured that the new international terminal at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, currently under construction by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), would be commissioned in February 2021.
FAAN Managing Director Capt Rabiu Yadudu stated this during the week when the House Committee on Aviation visited the agency’s facilities at the Lagos Airport as part of its oversight function.
According to him, the terminal (which is one of the four in which construction began in 2013 and was to be completed in 24 months) would have been completed this December had there not been a COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chinese company had sourced about $500 million for the construction of the four new terminals in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja with counterpart funding of $100 million from the Federal Government.
While some of the terminals had since been commissioned and currently used by airlines and passengers, the completion of the Lagos terminal was hampered due to some gaps noticed in the system, which have since been closed.
Yadudu also said that FAAN’s management has taken some critical steps to improve revenue generation and to curb spending in recent months, assuring that the Authority would continue in that regard.
Some of the steps taken, according to the MD, include the suspension of procurement of non- essential items, reduction in all staff related cost to the barest minimum and aggressive debt recovery drive, which he said was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Others are plugging of revenue loopholes, cash and fly policy, promotion and enforcement of cashless policy and the continuous strengthening of Business and Operational Excellence by improving on people, processes, platforms and performances.
‘In keeping with our vision and mission, we have strategically positioned ourselves to ensure that we have modern and up-to-date high-tech equipment and facilities that will aid better security, safety and comfort of all stakeholders.
‘I will like to say that aviation business is a global, technical and highly regulated with huge infrastructure requirements; furthermore, it is necessary to reiterate that aviation business sis driven by volumes and turnaround with operating profit margin of between 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent. Without the required volumes and traffic, it will be difficult to breakeven.
‘The aviation agencies will urgently need intervention fund from the Federal Government to address infrastructural gaps and position the industry for better service delivery and contribution to the national economy,’ Captn Yadudu said
The Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, lauded FAAN for steps taken so far to improve services for airlines, air travellers and other users of the airports nationwide.
Nnaji emphasised that there had been some improvements in the facilities at the airports in the last one year, despite the challenges of 2020 and charged the management of FAAN to invest more on safety and security infrastructure.
‘The worst we had was the COVID-19 pandemic. We are happy that the industry is coming back. As you can see, a lot of things were abandoned because of lots of things [but] now contractors are coming back to site,’ the federal lawmaker said
‘Last year, we noticed that there was no connection between the old and the new terminal, but today, as you can see, they have done the connection. What the Managing Director of FAAN said is that by February 2021, they will open up the corridor for passengers to use. We are impressed with FAAN. Last year, there was no apron like this, but this year, we now have it. It goes to show that FAAN is working and moving forward. We are happy with FAAN and we are ready to support the industry to move forward.
‘We as a committee, we advised FAAN that they must concentrate on critical infrastructure to save the industry. Safety and security are very key for the industry. In moving forward, most of the things that we will like to see in the budget would be something that are linked to security and safety, like operational and perimeter fences, airfield lightings, runways and others. These are the things that will improve on safety and security of the industry.’