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Abandoned aircraft overstretch Lagos airport facility


Airport, Lagos

One-too-many abandoned aircraft on the aprons of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, has overstretched the facility, making it almost difficult for active aeroplanes to operate.

Some of the aircraft, already over five years on the apron, occupy spaces at both cargo and passenger terminals – limiting operating spaces for wide-body foreign carriers.

Regional General Manager (South West) and Airport Manager, Victoria Shin-Aba, during a tour of the facility, said the development and difficult of amicable solution had made the review of existing bye laws inevitable.

Shin-Aba said while the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) was unrelenting in the quest to expand the aprons and parking spaces to cope with growing demand, a review of provisions on parking rights and charges for home-base airlines would curb excesses of many operators.

Indeed, a tour of the facility showed parked aircraft occupying substantial spaces of the aprons. At the cargo side, two aircraft –belonging to Allied Air and Med-View’s B777 plane – occupied spaces, reducing the cargo apron to a lot for two. The development, it was gathered has forced DHL to threaten relocation to Ghana.

At the international passengers’ end, three B777 owned by Air Peace and a B737-800 owned by Arik Air were stationed. Arik plane, now unserviceable, has been abandoned since 2015.

At the domestic end of the airport, multiple abandoned aircraft and helicopters were observed. All the operators, by the current laws, pay no parking charges as home-base airlines.

The Manager recalled that the airport, which dated back to 1979, has grown from one cargo operation a week to 30 daily, while eight international flights had grown to 272 aircraft movement per day. Currently, there are 32 international airlines flying into the airport.

Shin-Aba explained that in the light of the growing demand for space, FAAN is building aprons at the international, cargo and domestic airports, but needed some quick intervention, and that was why it became pertinent to call on airlines to take advantage of its offer “to move their equipment to other airports nationwide, at no cost to the operator.”

“At our cargo apron, the capacity is meant to take four aircraft: at least two wide-bodied aircraft and two smaller aircraft at the same time. Once in a while, we have more than the capacity. Once this place is filled up, we take the cargo flights to the international airport and that is additional cost to the cargo airline as they need to deploy and truck their goods from international to cargo.

“This is why we need to create space for airlines. On the left (of the cargo apron) is supposed to be the expansion and we are on it. Safety issues can also arise due to congestion which is what happens most times. The expansion is looking at increasing the cargo apron to accommodate eight wide-bodied aircraft.”

On what FAAN is doing to create space before the aprons are built, Shin Aba said, “We are reaching out to the airlines. Not all the aircraft on the apron are unserviceable, some are very serviceable. We are talking to them and some are seeing our reason and we hope to continue the overture. This is why FAAN is willing to waive payment for them, if they agree to take their parked aircraft to airports with less traffic.”

According to her, FAAN also needed to review its bye laws that deal with the issue of aircraft parking stating that operators too need to give ample time to FAAN before they bring in their aircraft so the airport authority can sit with them and plan for the parking.”

She however said some of the airlines, who own these aircraft have expressed certain fears especially of security, claims of maintenance, but “these are things that can be worked around to aid growth.”

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