…rejects GAT expansion plan
By Sade Williams
Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), Lagos, has assured domestic airlines and passengers wishing to use the Kaduna Airport as alternative to Abuja Airport that MMA2 has the capacity to process all domestic flights and passengers during the proposed closure of the latter.
Besides, BASL has kicked against suggestions in some quarters that the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) in Lagos be expanded to accommodate the expected rise in passenger traffic during the Abuja Airport closure.
Spokesman of the company, Steve Omolale, quoted the Chief Executive Officer, Captain Jari Williams, in a statement as saying that “MMA2 is adequately positioned 24/7 to accommodate any airline willing to process its passengers through our facility, as we are home to five airlines, including Aero contractors, Dana, Medview, First Nation and Azman. We still have 70 per cent unutilised capacity for passenger facilitation”.
The statement further said that BASL is prepared to dedicate a section of MMA2 to any airline having challenges in processing its passengers at GAT and also guarantees that all safety, security and specific passenger facilitation requirements will be put in place to address the airlines’ specific needs within 24 hours.
“MMA2 has un-utilised capacity with well-trained staff who are in position to handle any such requests. We are also ready for regional flight operations as facilities for this are 100 per cent available at our terminal and have remained unutilised since”.
Williams further assured both international and domestic passengers flying through MMA2 to and fro Kaduna Airport during the Abuja Airport closure that BASL was working with domestic and foreign airlines to provide the necessary comfort and support to mitigate travel hardships.
In this regard, the BASL CEO indicated that the company is expecting that regional flight operations will take off from MMA2 anytime from now.
The statement advised all passengers to download MMA2 Mobile App to take advantage of airline schedules and other information, as well as real-time arrangements and assistance on what the terminal has to offer during the closure of Abuja Airport and beyond.
It added: “We at MMA2 are confident that all airlines and passengers using our facility will not notice the difference and there is no need to panic except you make the wrong choice of terminal.”
On the suggested expansion of GAT, the statement quoted Williams as expressing dismay at “the unpatriotic requests from vested interests to expand GAT during this painful period of economic recession. This is in contradiction and in bad faith to the concession agreement signed between Bi-Courtney and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in 2007, which vests all revenue for domestic flights in and out of Lagos in BASL, and which FAAN and FG have not honoured to date.
“Article 2.2(c) of the Concession Agreement says ‘The Grantor (FAAN) further guarantees and assures that all scheduled domestic flights in and out of FAAN’s Airport in Lagos State shall during the Concession Period operate from the Terminal’. But this provision, like many others, has never been honoured.
“The suggestions to extend GAT are ludicrous because there is an available terminal (MMA2) that is just minutes away from GAT and that has the capacity to handle all local traffic in and out of Lagos State, which is legally vested with such responsibility. The call to expand GAT is therefore mischievous and lacking in professional understanding of the prevailing circumstances”.
Bi-Courtney expressed some concern over the duration of the proposed airport closure, adding that it hopes it will not extend beyond the advertised six weeks.
The Ministry of Aviation had said it would close Abuja Airport for six weeks for the repair of its failing runway. During this period, Abuja-bound flights, including international flights, are to be diverted to the Kaduna Airport, which some foreign airlines have, however, rejected.
Many foreign airlines are also expected to terminate their flights in Lagos, leading to increased traffic at the International Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMIA) and the domestic terminals.