By Martha Momoh
The Benin airport recorded a decrease in passenger and aircraft movements in 2011. The airport, one of the fastest growing airports in the country, in terms of passenger movement, recorded 348,906 passengers in 2010 and 323,545 passengers in 2011.
Aircraft movement at the airport during the period under review showed that in 2010, a total of 7,081 movements passed through the airport, while in 2011, 6,791 movements were also recorded.
Speaking to journalists on the decrease in both passenger and aircraft movements in the airport, the Airport Manager, Mr. Sunday Ayodele, attributed the reduction to the opening up of Asaba airport by the Delta State government and the repair work on the Benin-Ore road by the Federal Government.
Ayodele also added that the decrease was also as a result of the stoppage of operations into the airport by Air Nigeria and the cut down of flights operations by Associated Airlines and Aero contractors. “Associated airlines reduced its service, Air Nigeria stopped and then Aero contractors reduced”, he said.
According to Ayodele, “Before the opening of Asaba airport, all the Delta passengers were using the Benin airport, including people from Onitsha, but now Asaba is nearer. So that has affected our passengers and aircraft movements”.
He however declared that the decrease was not significant adding, that after the current remodelling work at the airport, activities will bounce back.
Ayodele was optimistic that the remodelling work would be completed towards the end of May as scheduled as the contractor was working ahead of the deadline. The Airport manager said all the materials needed for the work were already available, adding that it has made the work easy.
According to HIM, about 80 per cent of debt owed the airport by various organisations had been recovered through a task force set up in January this year. He lamented that the major challenges facing the airport was the non-payment of landing and parking fees, electricity bills and office rents by airlines using their facilities.
Ayodele appealed to the Edo State government to rebuild the damaged airport fence pulled down by the construction company during the construction of airport road in order to secure the airport from runway incursion.
He said the management of FAAN was equally worried over the absence of perimeter fence, adding that the Managing Director, Mr. George Ureisi, during his visit to airport, assured patrons of the fencing of the airport.
Ayodele, while commending passengers for their understanding during the period of remodelling, advised airport communities to take advantage of the airport transformation to be part of it by participating.