Experts recommend privatization of airports
Mr Richard Aisuebeogun, Chairman, Airport Business Summit and Expo, has called on the Federal Government to privatise the country’s airports to make them more viable for business.
Aisuebeogun, a former Managing Director of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), made the call during the 2016 Airport Business Summit and Expo on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that management of airports by the government was no longer fashionable globally, adding that airport business all over the world has become private sector driven.
According to him, airports are transformed into private enterprises in such a way that their operational efficiency and financial accountability will increase because there will be balance sheet to be checked.
“More so is the fact that government is limited by the available funds for expenditures today, airports will probably be in the middle scale.
“What we are saying is that now is the time therefore for government to begin to look at ways to privatise the airports for operational efficiency and financial accountability.
“It can be done in such a way that the airport would now be seen as a business unit that will attract public and individuals who are in charge of business enterprises,’’ he said.
Aisuebeogun stated that Nigerian airports were viable to be transformed into business zones, explaining that all the airports built in the 1970s were based on the country’s National Development Plans (NDPs).
He added that the NDPs that drove the construction of the airports looked at the economic consideration in the various regions that those airports were built at that time.
According to him, the airports were built not only for the integration of the regions, but because of the economic viability of the regions where those airports were built.
The chairman lamented that the economic drive of the airports had been jettisoned over the years, adding that the government only laid so much emphasis on the operational drive of the airports.
He explained that the operational drive of the airports was “cost end’’ while the economic drive was “profit end’’ to the business.
“What we are saying in essence is that even if the management of airports is in the hand of the federal government as it were today, the individual airports must go back to the basis.
“They should take into consideration the economics of the states where they are built and tap into it because people will only fly their airplane to where they know there are business opportunities.
“First, let us identify our economic viabilities in various regions because that is when the airports would grow and that is what is being done in other parts of the world.
“Ethiopia has taken advantage of its air transport system to take over the East African regional market because they have also created a low level carrier to run through the East African region,’’ said the expert.
Aisuebeogun, however, advised that the existing airports should be remodelled and restructured to meet international standard instead of building new ones.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit, with the theme “Repositioning the Airport Business to Sustain Air Transport growth”, is holding its second edition.
Mr Fortune Idu, Organiser/Convener of the summit, said that sound airport development, concept, plan and programme were vital for a viable, sustainable and safe total air transport system.
Idu said that the summit was designed to present the aviation industry from the airport perspective and link it to the development of cities and regional economies.
He stated that airport business was the runway for the takeoff of fast economic growth as well as offering a safe landing for delivery of economic dividends.
“However, this derivable is only possible when the airports are well managed and potentials maximised,’’ he said.