Stakeholders in aviation sector on Wednesday expressed divergent views over plans by the Federal Government to concession Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had on Monday announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the concession of both airports to improve their efficiency and service delivery.
The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, told NAN that the decision was a step in the right direction.
“Government has no business in doing business and that is the truth. If the Federal Government now decides to concession the airports, that is the right thing to do.
“Look at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 that is being run privately, it is the best airport in Nigeria,” he said.
Onyema noted that the only fear was that some of the workers might lose their jobs due to the fact that the investors would streamline operations to cut cost.
However, Mr Ahmed Danjuma, Chairman, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association Of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) chapter opposed the move.
Danjuma argued that most of the airports were built for political reasons without consideration of the economic benefits to the nation, adding that majority of these airports depend largely on the viable airports to survive.
According to him, airports in other countries survive because they are maintained with the revenue generated by the same airport, noting that reverse is the case in Nigeria.
“Airports across the globe are sustained with generated revenue but in Nigeria, we use the generated revenue from international Airport Lagos, to maintain others,” Danjuma said.
He maintained that for airports in the country to be viable, government imposition of workers on the agency must stop in other for them to meet their targets.
The union chairman said FAAN was in the position to effectively manage and maintain all airports in the country but regretted that heavy wage bill from politicians had continued to drag the agency backwards.
Danjuma also warned that concessioning could expose Nigeria to security risk and urged the government to jettison the plan.
Similarly, the Secretary General, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Mr Abdulrasaq Saidu, said aviation unions would continue to kick against concessioning of the viable airports in the country.
Saidu said almost all the revenue points at the had been concessioned, adding that nothing was left.
On his part, the General Secretary, Aviation Roundtable, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, advised the Federal Government to concentrate more on safety issues in the aviation sector.
He said most of the airports in the country were without airfield lightings while the National Air Management Agency (NAMA) was in need of enhanced communication coverage across the country.
Ojikutu, who is also the Chairman, Century Security, said there were no clear terms as to what the government want to concession.
The former airport commandant urged the government to invite competent private investors in the country to take over the management of the terminal buildings.
Ojukutu advised that anyone taking over the Lagos and Abuja airports must also take responsibility of the smaller ones under them.