Bi-Courtney Seeks Approval for Regional Operations


Chinedu Eze
Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, has canvassed for regional flight operations to emanate from the private terminal, which has the most efficient and ultra-modern facilities in Nigeria.

The airport terminal which was built to provide service for both regional and domestic passengers has been grossly underutilised because all the scheduled domestic service and regional operations do not emanate from the airport terminal adjudged the best in the country.

The terminal operator explained that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had approved it twice for MMA2 to commence regional flight operations, but wondered why the same regulatory agency cancelled the approvals.

Speaking yesterday at the terminal during the tour of its facilities, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BASL, Captain Jari Williams emphasised that the organisation had spent several billions of naira to acquire state-of-the-art facilities in preparation for regional flight operations, but decried that the inconsistency in government policy despite the approval, had prevented it from using the facilities.

On the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that prevented local and international passengers from mixing in the same terminal, Williams said that several countries around the world had improved on the recommendation and today operate both flights from same terminal.
He specifically mentioned Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and Port Harcourt Airport in Abuja and Port Harcourt respectively as two of the airports local and international passengers are processed from the same terminal.

Apart from this, he also mentioned Heathrow Airport in London, Kotoko International Airport, Accra, Ghana and Benin Republic Airport as some of the countries where local and international passengers are still processed from the same terminal, stressing that Nigeria could not be an exception.

“Aviation is a very dynamic industry. How many airports still separate regional from domestic operations? If a country decides to have international and local, I don’t think there is any problem about that. Anyone that is still saying that they do passenger separation is doing 1950 aviation.

“In order to ease passenger experience, we had it in our agreement that there should be a rail link between international and local airports, but what do we have today? Some people ensure that it didn’t see the light of day.”

Williams further lamented that 50 per cent of MMA2’s revenues still go to the coffers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) through the operations of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of MMA and the denial of the terminal operators from operating regional flights, stressing that only 65 per cent of its 45 check-in counters are put into use.

He disclosed further that Arik Air, which hitherto refused to operate from the terminal had about a month ago, commenced charter flight operations from MMA2, stressing that as a business organisation, BASL would continue to engage the airlines and others to operate from its terminal as enshrined in the contractual agreement.
He declared that the facility, which had the capacity to process about four million passengers per annum with room for enhancement, only handles two million passengers at the moment.

The Legal Counsel of BASL, Mr. Tola Oshobi (SAN) maintained that Bi-Courtney was open to re-negotiation with the federal government on the knotty areas in its concession agreement and hope that the government would be willing to reach an agreement with it.