By Nosa Aituamen
The Federal Government is set to turn around the fortunes of the nation’s airports with the invitation to private and foreign investors to buy into the project.
The investment covers passenger and cargo airports operated and managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN.
This will not only change the narrative of the airport experience for users but also contribute to the country’s gross domestic product, GDP.
In the past, airports were built for social services and not for profit making.
The Federal Government over the years have invested huge funds on infrastructure with little or nothing recovered in terms of revenue in the operations of these airports.
Such airports have been tagged unviable as there are few or no passenger facilitation, businesses and flights into them by stakeholders.
However, some stakeholders believe no airport is unviable if the right business model is applied.
They are of the opinion that apart from flight services , other activities can be introduced to attract people to spend money.
“Right now in Nigeria, we don’t have a single airport that has an amusement park to manage children, So an airport that appears unviable today can become viable in the future”.
Now, the new thinking of government due to paucity of funds for maintenance is inviting the private sector both local and foreign to invest in these airports and turn them into money spinning businesses.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika says, government has no business in business and as such a level playing field is now opened for investment.
“I therefore implore well-meaning Nigerians and foreigners to come onboard, align with the roadmap and take advantage of these business opportunities with the limitless potential for huge returns on investments”.
With the increase in demand for air travel and the entry of many airlines, the need to upgrade and modernize the infrastructure of airports for passengers, users and stakeholders have become compelling.
With facility upgrade, this would bring about quality service delivery in the areas of security, safety and comfort and put to an end the avalanche of complaints by passengers.
Director, Commercial and Business development, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN, Mr. Sadiku Rafindadi says, the airports today are no longer for social services but for profit making.
“The directive has changed now, we are all for profit making airports, we are open to PPP’s, ww arw opened to JV’s”.
The idea is that, money generated would be ploughed back into the system to cater to the maintenance of facilities, pay workers salaries and contribute to the Federation account.
If this is the way for government, Former Managing Director, Nigeria Aviation Handling Company, NAHCO, Mr. Idris Yakubu says this should also be accommodated in the concession process.
“The Federal Ministry of Aviation should do a mandate if that process can be altered in a manner to align the airports”.
Already, many state governments have and are investing in airports and airline business to open up their states, attract more investment, boost tourism and generate revenue.