For aviation industry to experience exponential growth, government must take urgent steps to address challenges at airports associated with poor cooling systems, uncontrolled movements, lack of capacity to curb touting and crowding, inadequate infrastructure, lack of cooperation among airlines with the regulators as well as dearth of logistic facilities.
A report put together by stakeholders under the aegis of Airport Business Summit said until government takes bold steps to fix these challenges, the push for the growth of the industry would not be achieved.
The report stated that its study of the industry in the last three years confirmed that airports development remains key in addressing population growth, managing urban drift as well as serving as an enabler for economic growth.
The Aviation Business Summit Report observed that though airports play critical role in the development chain, it could only achieve that goal if there is available and reliable air connectivity to facilitate movement of people and services.
Reliable air connectivity , the report said, would reduce the tendency of permanent migration to already congested cities.
The report identified lack of investors’ interest in airports and attendant lack of funding as part of major operational challenges that hinder airports from playing its critical role.
Other factors militating against the growth of the industry, the report stated, include “Inability of stakeholders to formulate right strategy to move the aviation sector forward; low passenger traffic; lack of co-ordination among sister agencies at the airports; lack of adequate aircraft maintenance hangars; lack of well-trained work force; poor time management and poor airport management services.”
The report canvassed stakeholders’ involvement, training and manpower development, strong political will, to back up policies as part of efforts to strengthen the sector.
It also called on government to consider putting in place facilities for transit passengers, noting that this would boost connectivity on major routes. It also said autonomy for the Federal Airports Authority (FAAN) with adequate funding could change the airport management narrative.
The report noted that airport business growth in Nigeria is relatively slow because of hiccups in the operating environment. It said: “The climate in Nigeria is harsh for businesses to thrive for airports because there are multiple charges by FAAN, which complicate the business activities of concessionaires.
“Many service providers lack quality customer service relationship. There is poor planning, policy somersault and unhealthy bureaucracy that hinder development. There is lack of transparency in airport management, poor communication mechanism between landlord and concessionaires.
“The business environment in Nigeria especially the airports should be made conducive enough for businesses to thrive. Good reward system as incentives to encourage hard work on the part of the operators of the airports.
“Well-tailored policy framework that would encourage investment opportunities within airport business environment.
“State of the art infrastructure should be made available. Proper planning to cater for short, medium and long term plans and implementation, continuity in government policies and provision of security amongst others.”
On security around airports, the report noted that steps should be taken to address drug planting, human trafficking, aircraft hijacking, incursion into the airside by animals or humans, stowaway, touting, extortion, theft and hawking.
It reads: “Government should consider ways and means to checkmate criminal acts by installing CCTV and scanning machines around the airports.
“There should be regular and proper patrol of both airside and landside of the airports in addition to completing perimeter fencing of all aerodromes to check incursion menace.
“Government should look at ways to assist airlines reduce flight delays and cancellations ; delay in refunds due to flight cancellations, poor handling of passenger luggage leading to damage and or loss of luggage; dirty rest rooms ; touting and extortion prevalence, harassment by security personnel, poor cooling systems and uncomfortable airport environment ; unfriendly staff and personnel and poorly managed information desk.”