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Aviation: Impending increase in passenger service charge

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PHOTO: VON

Sir: Close observers of the happenings in the Nigerian aviation industry will be familiar with the drive and actions of the current administration to step out of the box in doing the needful as regards growth, safety, quality of service and ease of doing business in and around Nigerian airports.

Not too long ago, the government took the bull by the horn by upgrading the quality of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a feat achieved against all odds and in record time. It’s now being followed up by plans to reconstruct the second runway and upgrade of facilities according to the original master plan.

In addition, a new world class terminal, which had been constructed at the Port Harcourt Airport, was recently commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari. Nigeria now enjoys a new era of efficient travel experience ushered in by the centralised screening, powered by automated digital machines to ease commuting for all travelers as well as curb the activities of drug barons and smugglers.

On the other side and in order to consolidate the gains made, just as in every commercial venture, there is need to take care of the bottom line, which explains why many of us believe that the upward review of the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) as being proposed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, is a welcome development, especially as it’s geared towards contributing to the sustainable execution of government’s lofty objectives in the aviation sector.

Among the tenable reasons for such review are:
. The last review exercise was carried out over seven years ago and obviously requires re-alignment with current realities.
. The devaluation of the naira which has taken place in the intervening period has effectively reduced the value of the existing service charge comparatively.
The Passenger Service Charge in Nigeria is far below par, compared to the regional and international averages, yet Nigerians will always clamour for above par experience.
. Such review is well in line with the general guide and standards obtainable under IATA.
. There is need to increase revenue to service current Public Private Partnership commitments as well as encourage more of such arrangements for rapid and sustainable developments.
. The increasing cost of compliance with emerging stringent passenger security and processing standards calls for urgent review.
. There is need to bring more airports in the country up to international standards from the current four to at least, 10.
. There is also need to continuously acquire, maintain and improve technologies for seamless passenger processing and comfort.

Nigeria needs to position itself among African countries with top-notch airport facilities such as South Africa’s Thambo Mbeki International Airport, King Shaka International Airport also in South Africa, Cairo International Airport in Egypt, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya, among others. This will make Nigeria take her rightful place in the aviation community.

Government on its part has shown the political will required to improve and transform the Aviation section. Government is also determined to participate directly through its on-going quest for the re-establishment of a National Carrier and the settlement of all outstanding commitments to retirees of the defunct Nigeria Airways to pave way for the successful take off of this lofty project.

Aviation practitioners and other well-meaning Nigerians would readily understand the need for sacrifices such as this to bring about the necessary change required to standardize our facilities and operations, so that Nigerian aviation can serve as a reference point for acceptable global standards. Such individuals must champion the campaign for cooperation within their social circuits and different spheres of influence.
God bless Nigeria.

Dan Aibangbe, a media and public relations consultant, wrote from Lagos.


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