By Chinedu Eze
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) like the Nigerian and foreign airlines would record huge revenue losses for the six weeks the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja would be closed for major repair of its runway from March 8, 2017.
Although there are doubts that the rehabilitation would last only six weeks, but FAAN said it would lose estimated revenue of over N2 billion from international carriers and domestic operations.
Foreign airlines that operate to Abuja airport include Egypt Air, Air France, British Airways, Ethiopia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, South Africa Airways and Middle East Airlines.
FAAN generates about N800 million and $180,000 (N64,800, 000), totaling N1.44 billion monthly from foreign carriers in Abuja, which means that if they refused to move to Kaduna, as they have already stated, the agency would lose the aforementioned revenue.
These revenues include fees, which contributes about 30 percent of FAAN revenue. FAAN sources said Abuja airport contributes about 40 percent of the agency’s total revenue.
“If the airport is closed for six weeks it means that FAAN will lose two months’ revenue. This will aggravate the current recession and it will be worse for the agency, which is already struggling to earn money to carry out major infrastructural projects at the airports. Foreign airlines have made it clear that they won’t go to Kaduna; rather, they would move to Lagos, but government refused. We just pray that the duration of the closure will not last more than the six weeks,” a FAAN official told THISDAY.
Meanwhile, some domestic carriers have estimated that they would lose huge resources during the closure but gave support to the closure for safety reasons.
Some of the airlines said that they would reduce their flights to the alternate airport, which is Kaduna because not many passengers travelling to Abuja would like to land in Kaduna.
“So we expect drastic reduction of passengers to Abuja and we are also going to reduce our frequency to Abuja, now Kaduna. Although the Minister (Senator Hadi Sirika) assured Nigerians of safety on the Kaduna to Abuja road, but I know that many of our passengers will suspend their travel to Abuja during that period of closure. And many people who come to Lagos and other cities from Abuja to spend their weekend will have to stay back in Abuja until the airport is reopened,” said an operator.
But despite the fact they would lose revenue, almost all Nigerian airlines have given support to the closure so that comprehensive work would be done on the runway.
“We support the closure of the Abuja airport so that thorough work can be done on the runway, but we know we will lose money and the closure will disrupt our operations, but for safety’s sake we support the closure. That runway was a death trap and they said there is no other alternative than to close the airport so let them close. But it is important they start building a second runway immediately,” another operator told THISDAY.