Stalled regional operations, others dip MMA2 revenue
• Bi-Courtney insists on readiness
Delays in the takeoff of regional flights operation at the Murtala Muhammed Airport II (MMA2) has been blamed for loss of revenue to the tune of 50 per cent of the total sum generated by the facility.
The delay, due to withdraw of earlier approvals by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), coupled with alleged “illegal” operations of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) for local operations, account for half the flights operation originally earmarked for MMA2.
Meanwhile, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of MMA2, has canvassed that the regional flight operations be restored, citing readiness of necessary infrastructure.It will be recalled that the MMA2 terminal is the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement in the aviation sector. The facility, shortly after it opened in 2007, has been a subject of legal tussle between BASL and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and still unresolved till date.
Currently, about half of the terminal is in use as the section dedicate to regional operation still awaits passenger traffic flow.Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BASL, Captain Jari Williams, shortly after the tour of the facility told reporters that 50 per cent of MMA2’s revenues still illegally go to the coffers of FAAN through the operations of the GAT that rival MMA2, coupled with the denial of the terminal operators from operating regional flights.
William noted that the facility, which had the capacity to process about four million passengers per annum with room for enhancement, only handles two million passengers at the moment.
He said Arik Air, which hitherto refused to operate from the terminal, had about a month ago commenced charter flight operations from MMA2. However, BASL would continue to engage the airlines and others to operate from its terminal as enshrined in the contractual agreement.
The organisation, he stressed, had spent several billions of naira to acquire state-of-the-art facilities in preparation for regional flight operations, but decried that the inconsistency in government’s policy had prevented it from using the facilities.
Williams observed that the NCAA had twice approved the regional operations and had twice cancelled it, citing international rules that prohibit local and domestic passengers using in the same terminal.On NCAA’s concern, Williams said several countries around the world had improved on the recommendation and today operate both local and foreign flights from same terminal.
He specifically mentioned Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, and Port Harcourt Airport in Rivers State as two of the airports local and international passengers are processed from the same terminal.
Apart from this, he also mentioned Heathrow Airport in London, Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana and Benin Republic Airport, as some of the countries where local and international passengers are still processed from the same terminal, stressing that Nigeria could not be an exception.
He said: “Aviation is a very dynamic industry. How many airports still separate regional from domestic operations? If a country decides to have international and local, I don’t think there is any problem about that. Anyone that is still saying that they want passenger separation is doing 1950 aviation.
“In order to ease passenger experience, we had it in our agreement that there should be a rail link between international and local airports, but what do we have today? Some people ensure that it didn’t see the light of day.”
Legal Counsel to BASL, Tola Oshobi (SAN) added that Bi-Courtney was open to re-negotiation with the Federal Government on the naughty areas in its concession agreement and hope that the government would be willing to reach an agreement with it.
Explaining BASL’s rift with FAAN, Oshobi said: “The original agreement we had with the government for the operation of the terminal was just 12 years, but then, that terminal was supposed to be a warehouse. But, with the enormous resources and finance we put into this facility (MMA2) where you have never have a total blackout in the past 10 years of their operations, the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo approved 36 years for us.
“When we had issues with it, former President, the late Umaru Yar’Adua called FAAN and Bi-Courtney together and told them (FAAN) to obey the agreement the government had with us. But since then, FAAN has been going to one court or the other and we have always got favourable judgments against the government,” he said.
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