FAAN to shut Kebbi airport over N33 million debt
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has concluded plans to shut down operations at the Kebbi airport over debt in excess of N33 million.
The Guardian learnt that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) issued Notice To Air Men (NOTAM) to all airlines not to fly into the State-owned airport as of midnight Monday.
Sources at FAAN also confirmed that from 12: am on Monday, the agency would withdraw all its fire service and security personnel from the airport.
The Kebbi State government is alleged to owe FAAN over N33m and has refused to pay since January this year despite a series of letters to the government.
“We are closing the Kebbi airport by 12 midnight Monday, they are indebted to us and we have written so many letters to the governor and there was no response and NAMA has already issued a NOTAM yesterday to inform all airlines flying into the airport to keep off,” one of the sources said.
A similar scenario occurred in 2019 when the state government rushed to pay after FAAN threatened to close the Kebbi airport over N53 million.
Indeed, all the State-owned airports are not viable despite the rush to build more. The Guardian earlier reported that at least 17 of the 20 airports owned and managed by the Federal Government were unviable and operated at losses for three years on the bounce.
FAAN lately blamed unviable airports scattered nationwide for their poor earnings and revenue shortfall over the years, now in excess of N65 billion.
Management of FAAN, while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, in Abuja, reaffirmed that a total of 18 out of the 22 airports under its operations are unviable.
Except for the trio of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Rivers State, none of the other 17 airports has sufficient revenue to cover the cost of operations alone.
Investigations showed that additional funding from high-traffic Lagos and Abuja airports’ excess revenue to the tune of N26.1 billion cushioned the operational cost deficits incurred by the unviable airports in 2017, 2018 and 2019.