Aero Contractors Airlines
Aviation experts have put the cost of having no lighting on runways of major airports to domestic carriers at over N1.5 billion annually.
The Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Captain Akin George, explained to THISDAY that the absence of runway lights in Lagos alone costs Aero N60 million a year and lack of night operations at the other airports in the country also cost the airline $35 million (about N5.454 billion).
According to George, “Airport infrastructure needs to be overhauled; lack of runway lights in Lagos alone cost Aero N60 million a year, lack of night operations at the airports is a loss of $35 million and lack of lighting of taxiways means a drastic reduction is safety of passengers. Failure of runway lights in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Calabar has cost Aero an additional N40 million in 2012 alone.”
The Lagos runway 18L, which is meant for domestic airlines was rehabilitated four years ago but the airfield lighting has not been installed since then, a period that recorded three Aviation Ministers.
The Chairman of IRS Airlines, Alhaji Isyaku Rabiu, once commented on the effect of none installation of airfield lighting on the domestic runway of Lagos airport.
He said that there were many problems of infrastructure at the airports, remarking that in the last three to five years domestic carriers could not land after 7:00 pm at the domestic airport runway 18L in Lagos.
“We have to land at the international airport. That, you may think is not much but it is a lot of money that we waste in doing that. It cost money on your wear and tear, on tyres, on your brakes, on your airplanes an on your engines and fuel burnt is excessive.”
Rabiu lamented that to taxi all the way from international airport to domestic airport, which is just one long distance could take so much fuel.
“Sometimes you get held up at the threshold because there are so many airplanes coming and it is practically almost being done manually. And it takes time waiting there burning fuel and wasting a lot of time. For the airline and for the passengers, it is negative thing. And it is one of the things that can actually affect your departures, because if you are going at 9:00 o’ clock flight and you don’t leave until 9.45 due to problems at the threshold, you will not be able to make it.”
Many in the industry still wonder why this important equipment has not been installed to ease airline operation and to save these airlines loss of revenue.
Recently the provision of airfield lighting was handed over to the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) but the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which used to handle it had subsisting agreement for the provision of this important lighting system for some of the airports.