The year 2012 was indeed challenging for Stella Oduah. The June 3 Dana Air crash, which killed 153 passengers on board the aircraft and others on the ground, the suspension of operations by Air Nigeria, as well as the indebtedness of Arik Air and Aero Contractors, marred the vibrancy that the aviation industry is known for. Despite that, she remained undaunted and focused.
Oduah has pursued deliberate strategies to grow the domestic airlines. She successfully championed a campaign for the removal of taxes and tariffs imposed on commercial airline spare parts, which was a major cost component in the overall cost of domestic airline operations. Arrangements have also been concluded to facilitate the acquisition of 30 airplanes to boost the operations of domestic airlines.
Under her leadership, some airports have been designated as agro-allied and cargo terminals to promote investment and make them self-sustaining. This will lead to a reduction in rural-urban immigration, massive rural development, provision of employment and lead to a reduction in the crime rate.
The Port Harcourt International Airport, for instance, has been designated as Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and Export Processing Zone (EPZ) to maximise its strategic location, with special incentives to stimulate economic development and foreign direct investment.
In the twilight of the year, the aviation sector got a Christmas gift with the restoration of airfield lighting on runway 18L at the domestic terminal of Murtala Muhammed Airport on December 25. With the commencement of night landing on the domestic runway, pressure will be eased on Runway 18R, the international runway that accommodated all domestic flights operating into Lagos after 6 pm.
Also, the expanded “E” Arrival Wing of the international terminal of MMA commenced operations on Christmas eve to handle the massive passenger flow that peaked that faithful day.
With her commitment to refurbishing several airport terminals in the country, the refurbished General Aviation Terminal (GAT) in Lagos, reopened to passenger traffic. The year 2013 will also witness the inauguration of brand new airport terminals in Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, and the commencement of the Aerotropolis project, a concept that involves building cities around airports, and thus connecting businesses, suppliers, executives and goods to the aviation global world. The Aerotropolis will create wealth and employment through the cluster of businesses at the airports.