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FG sticks to national carrier, airport concession, MRO projects

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Hadi Sirika

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has pledged commitment to the laid-down development master plan for the sector and its implementation before the end of the current administration.

Sirika said despite delays encountered in the bid for the sustainable modern aviation sector, efforts are on to give the country a befitting national carrier, the transparent concession of airports, aircraft leasing company, and Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility.

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Addressing stakeholders at a virtual meeting, he said the new vigor in the airport concession programme would cause a chain reaction across segments of the master plan.

This week, the Federal Government opened bidding for the concession of airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano.

Sirika, at the meeting, said the whole effort was to transform aviation into a modern enterprise, with state-of-the-art infrastructure replacing obsolete and sub-optimal ones.

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He noted that the airports, for instance, were not designed as international hubs, but to operate separately as international and domestic terminals.

“The airports in Nigeria are currently operating in a sub-optimal environment. There is relatively low asset utilisation due to the limited opening hours of other smaller airports. There is a lack of terminal capacity as the airports fall short of gates, stands, and check-in desks.

“Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, is an overstretched facility that was built in 1979 for 200,000 passengers. Currently, it processes nearly eight million travellers. So, we need to bring these facilities up to date. There is an urgent need for infrastructure investments and modernisation as all airports require investments in runway maintenance, navigation aids as well as terminal facilities. That is what we are doing through the master plan,” Sirika said.

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He added that the aviation master plan seeks to achieve an aviation economy that will be viable and generate revenue to the government’s coffers through the optimal usage of facilities.

“The immediate solution is to concession airports and surrounding activities, through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). However, it is important that the concession agreement is well spelt out. Both parties – the government and private investors – need to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. This is where the ICRC will be more effective, to get the perfect concessionaire for the country.”

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