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Domestic carriers lose N60bn revenue to limited operations

By on November 9, 2014

Nigerian airlines are denied over N60 billion revenue every year because they were restricted from operating to about 15 airports after 6:00 PM.
These 15 airports, located at different parts of the country do not have the facilities that will enable most aircraft being operated in the country to land or take off from their runways after sunset.
Consequently, the airlines were forced to cut back their services to cities where the airports are located, including the ones that have high record of passenger movement.
Normally, when runways are being constructed, airfield lighting are installed at the same time, but in Nigeria, government started the obnoxious attitude of approving runways for flight services without the installation of airfield lighting. Also, federal and state governments that built airports in the past seven years, awarded the installation of runway lighting separately from the contract of building the runway, which many industry experts described as an aberration.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) gives approval for these airports to be used without airfield lighting in their runways, thus encouraging these governments to see it as normal building airports without the critical infrastructure.
Managing Director of Arik Air, Chris Ndulue estimated that the airline alone may be losing about N40 billion annually because the airline cannot operate as many times as it has passengers to many of Nigeria’s airports.
Other airlines reportedly lose about N20 billion annually as they cannot operate to airports in Yola, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi, Dutse, Minna, Markurdi, Kadua, Ibadan and Akure after 6:00 PM.
Other airports that do not have airfield lighting include the ones located in Asaba, Benin, Calabar, Enugu, Owerri and Warri.
Many Nigerian airlines are forced to fly to these airports once in a day, some twice only. This restriction denied the airlines revenue, because they could not fly up to three times in a day despite the number of passengers they have, because when the sun sets, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) would refuse to give pilots start up or landing approvals.
When asked to estimate potential revenue losses to forced limited operation, Ndulue said: “It is not very easy to estimate. But you have to look at it in terms of potential additional revenue for operating for longer periods, perhaps into the night. Again you can also look at it in terms of underutilisation of the aircraft because they are not used for longer periods during the day. So at the end of the day you may estimate that it will be in the region of 40 billion naira in a year. But this depends on how many of such airports that you think you can access.”
Ndulue expressed surprise that these days, government builds airport runways without simultaneously installing airfield lighting, adding that such policy is not in tune with what is obtainable in other parts of the world.
“I think that runway lighting should be part of the initial project of building an airport. I don’t think it is something that should come later. I think it should just automatically come with the airport,” he said.
Industry security expert and the CEO of Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu noted that the inability of government to install runway lighting at the airports is a security breach because during emergency, an aircraft cannot just land at the nearest airport to save the lives of passengers on-board in the night, because that airport may not have airfield lighting. He said, if the aircraft could not fly farther in such distressed condition, it would crash.


[This Day]