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Concerns over airports’ poor customer service, dilapidated equipment

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Lagos airport

Poor customer service in local aviation and dilapidated equipment across the airports yesterday, drew the attention of aviation stakeholders.

The practitioners, at the Airport Business Summit and Expo Africa in Lagos, said not only are the dwindling infrastructure reducing Nigerian aviation’s competitiveness, but the operations are also as well getting unsafe for travellers.

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Similarly, Lagos airport has deepened in viability, generating 58 per cent of total revenue in aviation for 2020. Prior to the pandemic disruption, the busiest airport raked in about 40 per cent of total earnings.

Indeed, customer experience has declined in local operations with almost two in every three flights either delayed or cancelled.

Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services at the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Adamu Abdullahi, said both the poor infrastructure and services are regrettable.

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Abdullahi, however, said protection of consumers’ rights is paramount to competitiveness in the aviation sector.

He said consumers have rights to choose, to be heard, to redress, to a conducive environment, to value for money paid for service, and quality information.

Lamenting the infrastructure decay, Adamu said: “Our airports cannot compete favourably with world established airports; and the dream of turning Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, into a regional hub is far from being realised.

“Most of the nation’s terminal buildings require modern functional ones with state-of-the-art technology. Our apron spaces are congested and grossly inadequate, thus not being able to minimise timing in the area of facilitation.

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“Runways are undulating and deteriorating and have outlived their design life. On the whole, critical safety support services are all stretched to their limits.”

Adamu added that associated services at the airport, such as Airport Rescue and fire fighting services, water and power supply are all outdated.

Director, Commercial and Business Development of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Sadiku Rafindadi, said they are committed to strategies to increase the status of the facilities and increase revenue base, through aeronautical and non-aeronautical sources.

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Rafindadi noted that the new international terminals in Lagos, among others, would increase yearly passenger traffic to 15 million travellers nationwide.

He said among the 22 airports in the country, Lagos airport led the pack in 2020 revenue earning by 58 per cent. Abuja airport had 21 per cent; Port Harcourt and Kano had four per cent apiece, and the rest managed 13 per cent.

Rafindadi said: “Nigerian airports have enormous potential for high gross earnings if we will harness it. Each airport has its peculiarity in terms of tourism, agriculture, mining and aerotropolis to better improve their viability.”

He said further that FAAN was looking at increasing the share of non-aeronautical activities from below 30 per cent to 40 per cent, “by focusing on investments in airport infrastructures and technology solutions to drive cost optimisation, creating enabling environments and improving non-aeronautical revenue streams”.

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