16 years on, MMA2 still underutilised, hobbled by BASL/FAAN faceoff
• I’m shocked we have not started regional operations, says Babalakin
• Facility welcomes new domestic carrier, Rano Air
Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal II (MMA2), yesterday, clocked 16 years of operations with mixed feelings over missed opportunities, given routine underutilisation of the facility in Lagos.
The flagship facility, built and operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Service Limited (BASL), still has its regional (operation) wing fallow, cutting off about 50 per cent potential capacity and revenue of the aerodrome.
Recall that BASL was, in 2003, invited to construct the new terminal, after the former General Aviation Terminal One (GAT 1) was razed, and the preferred concession bidder, Sanderton Limited, failed to meet the deadline for commencement of work.
In May 2007, BASL completed and opened the MMA2 facility under the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative, the first in the aviation sector in Nigeria, was however, immediately gutted by bitter rivalry, legal fireworks, and yet unresolved controversies between BASL and FAAN, especially over statutory years of operation of the facility and amortisation of the BASL’s investment.
While FAAN insisted on a 12-year operation period as contained in the initial agreement, BASL stuck to the 36 years option as detailed in an addendum to the agreement. In the middle of the fiasco, FAAN created the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) to rival MMA2 operations – in clear-cut breach of the concession pact.
At the opening of an in-terminal art gallery and commemoration of MMA2’s 16th anniversary in Lagos, at the weekend, Chairman of BASL, Dr. Wale Babalakin, said the terminal had gone through enormous challenges and was still trying to surmount some of these, despite remaining purposeful.
Babalakin said MMA2 remains the best domestic terminal in the country (due to the intentionality of its design – drawn by the world’s best architects) to come up with the best flow and ease of operation, coupled with management discipline in the last 16 years.
Amid the milestone, he said he was alarmed that MMA2 had still not started regional flight operations.
“We went through the entire process, we were certified, but we have not been allowed to take off. Again, GAT is still operating illegally, because based on the judgment of the Supreme Court, the GAT is part of our facility.
“I hope that those who have power and constitutional authority will know that you encourage enterprise when you follow the rule of law. Once you follow the rule of law, your country will become an investment destination. But if people are looking at us from afar and saying, ‘what am I going to do there, when simple agreements are not being honoured’, it is not good for anybody in the country,” Babalakin said.
At inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, the National Assembly’s joint committee on aviation had inspected MMA2 and pledged to end the faceoff. But it didn’t keep the promise to date.
Babalakin said, as a business concern, they would continue to make their case based on law “as we believe that our case is insurmountable, truthful, and only the best for the country”.
MMA2’s Head of Airlines Operations, Remi Jibodu, added that the facility currently services 10 local airlines, with the 11th, Rano Air, just added yesterday, when it made its maiden flight from Kano to Lagos.
Jibodu said that the domestic carriers, with the support of MMA2, had brought growth, excellence and standard to aviation in Nigeria.