Industry stakeholders have excoriated the federal government for failing to install critical airport infrastructure to ease the pains of air travel in Nigeria.
The stakeholders noted that for several years majority of the airports in the country cannot allow flights to land at night because they lack airfield lighting and instrument landing system.
They, therefore criticised the government for collecting revenues from aviation agencies, especially the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA)and still leave the airports in deplorable condition without safety critical infrastructure.
THISDAY learnt that since 2015, with the introduction of Single Treasury Account (TSA), these agencies pay 25 per cent of their earnings to the federal government and considering that the agencies are cost recovery organisations that do not collect subvention from government, it has become increasingly difficult for them to fund capital projects.
For example, out of 22 airports under the management of FAAN, 18 do not have airfield lighting so flights cannot land there after 6:30 pm.
A senior FAAN official confirmed to THISDAY that the federal government does not provide funds to the agency, but noted that it was the duty of the Ministry of Transportation to embark on capital projects in the aviation industry.
But so far, there has not been any project embarked upon by government, save for the new terminals being built with Chinese loans which were enunciated in 2012, while work started in 2013.
At different occasions the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had reiterated that the current administration is providing safety critical infrastructure at the airside of the airports, which include landing aids like instrument landing system, airfield lighting and others, stressing that the administration was not interested in terminal building but in upgrading and providing those facilities for safe flight operations.
But at the twilight of this administration, none of the 18 aforementioned airports has airfield lighting installed.
Nonetheless, stakeholders commended the Buhari administration for modernising the Abuja airport runway as well as its airfield lighting.
The Accountable Manager , Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo told THISDAY Nigerian airlines go through challenges daily, due to delays caused by inadequate infrastructure.
“We go through day to day operational challenges. In some airports the landing aids are not there; in some places the power is epileptic.
“There are agencies’ challenges, with some doing better than others. There are lots of deficiencies in different places. When you say the environment is harsh, imagine a place where you can’t land after 6:00 pm or where maybe a state government has tried to help the system or the environment by providing equipment and then sometimes the people who are supposed to look after them vandalise them.
“Airports are not places where anyone on the street can get access to, so telling me that someone outside the airport environment has stolen the landing aids is not possible.
“The people who work there have done that. Somebody has done that so that he gets gratification,” he said.
Airlines and passengers have complained bitterly about the inability of aircraft to land at the second runway of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), known as domestic runway after 6:30 pm.
Being the busiest airport in Nigeria, domestic airlines have complained about the congestion on the first runway of the airport, known as the international runway due to traffic from foreign airlines from 6:30 pm which causes a lot of delays both for arriving flights and flights primed to take off.
Also, the Managing Director of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, who recently acknowledged the improvement on the airport terminals complained that the non-lighting of the domestic runway causes delay of flights from the international runway to the domestic terminals and noted that airlines burn a lot of fuel taxing to the terminals.
But the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu said the airfield lighting on the runway would soon be activated.