Posted by Sade Williams
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has said that the installation of lights on Lagos airport runway 18L will be completed between June and July 2022.
Managing Director of the Authority, Capt. Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu, gave this assurance while speaking with members of League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents at the press centre , Lagos Airport on Wednesday.
According to him, the Authority is faced with many challenges, especially, ageing facilities, adding however, that that of runway 18L lighting is a priority.
“Some of the equipment we have are ageing. Some of them are even 40 years and above. As the current management in FAAN, we want to make sure that anybody who comes as the next managing director of FAAN, we want to make their job easier. We are going out of our way to make sure we do our own. Now, we are fixing the 18L. You cannot land on 18L at night, now, the contractor is back. He was supposed to finish in March, but the cables he had were of low qualities and we are insisting on original ones. So, he said he will fix it by June or latest July. So, after nine years, we are fixing some of these things that were abandoned and we are also starting new ones, including baggage handling, the central cooling system.”, he said.
Yadudu disclosed that the whole airfield lighting system would be overhauled as it has not been done in the last 42 years.
“We contacted the airfield lighting company in Europe to fix the new ones, overhaul the whole airfield lighting system, there was no overhaul in 42 years. That is also in the process. We are fixing things so that those that come after us will get things easier.” he added.
Recall, in 2008 the 2.7 km runway ’18 Left’ domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, was rehabilitated for use, however without any air field lighting, leading to only daylight operations into the nation’s busiest airport and causing untold hardship on airlines for 12 years running as the situation compelled domestic aircraft at MMA to burn extra fuel to taxi down to their various terminals before disembarking their passengers at the Lagos airport.
Meanwhile, speaking on why the Authority cannot have 24-hour operations in all the airports across the country, Yadudu said it was not feasible because of the enormous costs to keep them operational when just one or two flights operate to the aerodromes.
He said nobody or airport authority would keep an aerodrome functional when there is no commensurate profit to be made from the venture.
Yadudu cited an instance where an airline wrote to the authority to operate 24 hours to Yola, stressing that after getting the letter, the authority wrote back to the carrier to give an assurance that it would mobilize equipment, personnel, and resources to the facility to aid seamless operations for the airline only for the carrier not to pursue the interest any longer.
“FAAN wants all airports to operate 24/7 because it is a business for FAAN. We earn our revenue from that operations; we are a service delivery agency, but the challenge is will the 24/7 pay for itself? Somebody has to pay for the 24/7 operations. Will the business pay for itself? If we open an airport with just only three landings, FAAN will close down. No organization in the world will do that. Even, if you go to Europe, you will find out that many airports are sunrise to sunset. You can operate an airport even for sunrise to midday so that everybody that knows should go around that window.
“FAAN cannot operate an airport that we cannot breakeven, because we are already challenged. We want 24/7 days airport, but we need to know if the business will be sustainable. At first, some of the businesses may look as if they are sustainable even for the next two years. So, somebody must be ready to have the business model to sustain 24/7 operations. I cannot commit to 24/7 operations when you are not coming.
“One airline came to us that they wanted to operate 24/7 operations to Yola and wanted FAAN to extend the time for them, but I told them that we will need a lot of money to so that. An airline may decide to open a route today and dispatch just one aircraft, but for FAAN, NAMA and others will have to mobilise personnel, ensure efficiency and fix facilities that can be move in and out. Sometimes, fuelers and handlers will be needed. We don’t want a situation whereby an airline will start a route now and in the next few months, it will stop such route due to lack of passengers. Then, who will pay for all we have gone through?
“FAAN is a business; we pay our salaries, wages and we have to be sure that we will breakeven when we do that. Who will nurture the airports for sustainability they can be sustained, but who will pay for those periods?”, he asked.