The federal government, through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) plans to certify the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos after the validation of its safety standard by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Already, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigerian (FAAN) has met all the conditions for the certification.
As Nigeria has the highest passenger traffic in West and Central Africa it ought to operate the hub of the sub-regions but today the Katoka International Airport, Accra is drawing the aircraft and passenger traffic because of the state of Nigeriaâ€™s airports.
But THISDAY learnt on Wednesday that after the certification more international carriers would start operating to Nigeria, as they have already indicated interest to come to the country after the certification. Also with that recognition, international aviation agencies would upgrade the airport and allow more aircraft to fly into the country.
The Director General of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman said that the airport certification would give the international aviation community that confidence to operate to the airport.
â€œThe certification of the airport is based on safety and it is required by ICAO to give the required confidence to international airline operators coming in that given standards have been met. That is not to say that what we have now is unsafe, because we have been operating. The airports as they are now are safe and they will be even safer, if we bring it in line with standards and recommended practices- because ICAO wants to bring in uniformity as fueled by Standard and recommended practices. We have been operating safely, we want everybody to be on the same page, that is why this certification has to be done in line with ICAO standards,â€ the Director General said.
THISDAY learnt that the federal government is facilitating the plan by private investors to build Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility and fuel depot very close to the airport to avoid the languid and rigorous movement of oil tankers from the Apapa depots to the airport.
A top official of FAAN told THISDAY that the certification entails meeting stringent conditions and such conditions would attract more credibility to the airport and improve its profile.
â€œWe must operate according to standards and our facilities must function efficiently and the infrastructure must be safe for flight landing and take-off at any time and that is why it must adhere to given high international standards,â€ the official said.
He added that when these standards are attained â€œthe airport will attract more flights and more airlines will come through our airports and this means more revenue for the country. This will boost the economy and create more jobs.â€
THISDAY also reliably gathered that some airlines which would have started operation to Nigeria like some Chinese airlines are waiting for the certification of the airport and the recognition that ought to be given to the airport by ICAO has not been given because the airport has not been certified.
Although ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have acknowledged that the Lagos airport drives the highest traffic in West Africa, but it has not been recognised as a hub because it has not been certified.
However, no airport in the West and Central Africa has been certified by the international aviation body; so it is hoped that when MMIA is certified in the next few days it would open the door for the certification of other airports in the sub-region that has met the given standards.