By Chinelo Obogo
It has been revealed that Nigerian airlines lose a minimum of N4.3 billion annually over the inability of many airports to operate 24 hours flight daily.
Speaking at the 26th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) on Thursday with the theme: Sunset Airports: Economic and Safety Implications,’ held in Lagos, the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi, said that the lack of 24 hours flight operations to major routes in Nigeria is impeding the growth of the airlines.
In the paper he presented titled, ‘Maximising Runway Utilisation: A Nigerian Airline Perspective,’ Uriesi said the country’s operators are losing an average of N4 million per flight, N12 million in every flight, N360 million in 90 flights and N4.3 billion annually on every flight lost to sunset airport operations.
This restriction, Uriesi said, has led to underutilisation of aircraft fleet by the Nigerian airlines as against the global industry standards.
To solve the challenge, Uriesi appealed to the government to prioritise airfield infrastructure and provide the necessary Instrument Landing System (ILS) and accompanying accessories for every airport, while also keeping the aerodromes open to meet the needs of airlines and other users.
He also said that the government should make current, approved master plans a regulatory requirement for every airport and illegalize non-adherence to the master plans by any organisation.
“This challenge is due partly because of too many impediments in the operating environment that limit airline productivity. These include limited runway availability across the domestic network, multiple operational infrastructure deficiencies, poor organisation and many others.
“Establishing a local aircraft lessor /financing vehicle that would allow for the domiciling of aircraft payments in local currency would make a huge difference to the air transport sector in Nigeria,” he said.
Also, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been tasked to help in the growth trajectory of the nation’s airlines without relegating safety, rather than slamming them with suspension.