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Metamorphosis of FAAN in two years

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Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

Sir: When in May 2019, a new helmsman emerged to steer the affairs of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the average Nigerian was oblivious of the event and the possible beneficial changes that would follow. The new incumbent, a veteran of the system, is Captain Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu.

He soon settled down to task, having the backing of a familiar management team. The arrowheads of strategic direction in the aviation industry worldwide are Safety, Security and then Comfort/Ambience, in that order of importance. But to the general public, the order of preference is reversed, hence the need to manage the delivery.

Over the last two years, most of the activities, objectives and developments within the purview of FAAN have been carried out with a central theme of customer-centrism.

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The addition of Passenger Luggage Scanners came quietly over a year ago, but this noiseless piece of equipment has reduced boarding time and stress for passengers, as well as increased the capacity for crime detection.

In the last two years, there have been unprecedented upgrades to the nation’s aviation infrastructure, ranging from runways to terminals as well as technical equipment. Some of these are even brand-new developments, such as the Akanu Ibiam International Airport. We also have that of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, completed, operational and awaiting commissioning. The new second terminal at MMIA Lagos is also at advanced stages and would have been completed, but for COVID-19 disruptions.

These achievements are the door openers to international patronage, investment and growth. These developments are also instrumental to the award of international route to our local airlines.

Excellent COVID-19 emergency response is another area of great achievement attributable to the FAAN helmsman. Much as the pandemic came unannounced, the nation recorded commendable performance, especially when viewed against the backdrop of what transpired in the global community.

Staff training has taken a new dimension. Instead of relying solely on foreign training with limited staff inclusion, FAAN has brought training home to the entire workforce. In the area of staff welfare, a world-class Dental Clinic at the Lagos centre has been added into the mix.

Despite the general meltdown in the aviation industry worldwide, the Nigerian environment is gathering momentum. The operating environment has improved with better services, regulations and governmental policy.

Government needs to create a stimulus package to boost performance of the aviation industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a blow to aviation worldwide. However, it also presents a unique opportunity for the industry to play catch-up with what obtains elsewhere in the world, learning from the mistakes of the past.

There are great potentials for cargo travel and tourism that are left undeveloped. Bundling of air transport with tourism has a great potential for both local and international patronage.

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

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