Domestic Airlines Lose N4.3bn Annually to Sunset Airports - THISDAY
JULY 29, 2022
BY Chinedu Eze
Nigerian airlines have lost about N4.3 billion annually to airports that provide only daylight service which restrict operators from flying longer hours.
Most of these facilities, known as sunset airports, do not have the infrastructure that enables flights to operate into the night, like the airfield lighting; while the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) limited few that have the infrastructure to only daylight operation, which means flights cannot service such airports after 6:30 pm.
The amount of loss was disclosed by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi at the 26th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) held yesterday in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Sunset Airports: Economic and Safety Implications, Uriesi said lack of 24 hours flight operations to major routes in Nigeria was impeding the growth of the airlines.
In his paper titled, “Maximising Runway Utilisation: A Nigerian Airline Perspective,’ the Ibom Air Chief Operating Officer said domestic carriers were 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 noted had led to a huge under-utilisation of aircraft fleets by the Nigerian airlines as against the global industry standards.
“This 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,” he said.
In a bid 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 advised that the government should make approved master plans a regulatory requirement for every airport and make non-adherence to the master plans by any organisation illegal.
“There is need to establish a local aircraft lessor /financing vehicle that would allow for the domiciling of aircraft payments in local currency. This would make a huge difference to the air transport sector in Nigeria,” he added.
Also speaking at the seminar, the Director at the Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Prof. Anthony Kila in his paper: ‘Passenger Experience in Daylight Airports,’ said the NCAA should encourage the airlines to succeed without compromising safety.
He regretted that the aviation industry was bedeviled with myriads of crises, stressing that the high cost of flights and shutting down of airlines in any country signified a bad omen.
Kila called for total rethink and resetting of the aviation industry by all players in the sector and also canvassed for the establishment of Bank of Aviation, which would make access to foreign exchange by airlines easier.
“We need to act swiftly and decisively to deal with this situation so that this very bad situation we have at hand does not turn into an unmanageable disaster. Decisive actions in this case will require a total rethink and resetting of the way we conceive and manage our aviation manners.
“There is a prevailing idea in the general public and amongst too many leaders of thought, opinion moulders and indeed policy makers that aviation is a sector that services the elites or the privileged, this is however an anachronistic misconception that needs to be deliberately and assertively corrected.
“Those who know and can need to find the clarity of mind and courage of voice to explain to the rest of the society that in the times we live in and with the size and structure of Nigeria, aviation has become and will remain a basic and essential infrastructure. With such conception in mind, the role of regulators in the sector will be radically modified. “
Earlier, the Group Managing Director, Finchglow Holdings, Mr. Bankole Bernard in his speech, warned that the continuous naira depreciation would spell doom for the industry.