Murtala Muhammed International Airport
Five years after the unveiling of the rehabilitated domestic runway of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, the Federal Government will, in a matter of days, install mobile airfield lighting so that aircraft can land there in the night.
Domestic carriers have clamoured for the installation of airfield lighting on this runway, known as Runway 18L, because during the evening and in the night when the runway is not allowed to operate, the airlines lose money on wear and tear of their aircraft and on fuel burnt while the aircraft taxi from the international runway to the domestic terminal (MMA2) or the General Aviation Terminal (GAT).
THISDAY learnt that it is the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) which is now in charge of providing airfield lighting at the nation’s airports that facilitated the project and that the mobile airfield lighting would be an interim measure until a permanent one would be installed next year.
It is not only the Lagos airport that will benefit from this runway lighting as NAMA has planned to install the facility at other busy airports to ease air services and improve safety, especially at Yuletide.
In addition, NAMA has also installed digitalised airfield lighting at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja as back-up in case there is disruption of the fixed lighting which was installed recently at the airport.
A NAMA source told THISDAY: “We are deploying emergency airfield lighting to the Runway 18L and other airports as back up to the conventional ones while we still continue to work on installing permanent airfield lighting at the airports that do not have them now.
“Factory acceptance tests have been conducted in Dorset, the United Kingdom and we are installing them any time from now. We expect the shipment of the equipment and immediately they arrive we start installation,” the source said.
Nigerian domestic carriers are said to lose over N1.5 billion annually to lack of runway lighting, which also compromises safety standards of the airports.
The former Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Akin George, explained to THISDAY in a recent interview that lack of runway lighting in Lagos alone costs the airline 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).
George said: “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.”
Also the Chairman of IRS Airlines, Alhaji Isyaku Rabiu, once commented on the effect of not installing airfield lighting on the domestic runway of Lagos airport.
He said there were many problems of infrastructure at the airports, remarking that in the last 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 and on your engines and fuel burnt is excessive.
“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 a negative thing.”