The federal government said yesterday that it has resolved to concession nation’s airports under the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to create opportunity for the private sector to participate in airport infrastructure development in Nigeria under the PPP arrangement.
Government said the concession process would start with the first four major airports in the country located in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt for a maximum of 30 years to ensure they are run efficiently and profitably
Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed this on Friday when he opened the Legend Lagos Airport Hotel operated by Hilton at the Quits Aviation Terminal, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
The opening of the exotic hotel, which was graced by the President of Hilton Worldwide, Christopher Nasette, the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, Chairman of Oando, Mr. Wale Tinubu, among others, was described as unique.
Sirika before he cut the tape to open the hotel disclosed that the new airport terminals in Abuja and Port Harcourt built by the Chinese under the $500 million facility from China Exim Bank would be inaugurated before end of October.
The minister observed that many Nigerians have taken to the social media to celebrate the new terminal at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana, but they did not know that the country has better airport terminal facilities in Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja and Lagos, adding that the four terminals would be unveiled soon, starting with Port Harcourt and Abuja this October.
He, however, stressed that despite the building of the four facilities and additional one at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, government had realised that it cannot efficiently build and manage airport infrastructure, hence the decision to concession them.
“I will like to say that within the first quarter of next year, Airbus A380 aircraft would be landing in Nigeria. We have facilities to receive such an airplane. But this year before the end of this October, we would be opening the terminal in Port Harcourt which is ready even to the apron operations. We will also be opening the terminal in Abuja. They would be ready for operations.
“There are many other terminals we will open. I am sure my friends in the media have not forgotten that the intent and purpose of this government regarding aviation is to concession these airports. We don’t believe that government can run these facilities and run them very well. We must hand them over to the private sector,” he said.
The minister said Nigeria would soon record the highest passenger traffic in Africa as it was presently recording 16 million passengers per annum and the country strategically located to become a natural hub for West and Central Africa.
“If you talk about passenger traffic in air transportation, Ghana is just 450,000 passengers per annum last year. Here with all the dilapidated structures around the airports which we are working hard to improve very soon, Nigeria did about 16 million passengers, that’s 30 times Ghana market. We’re so lucky by our geography to be at the centre of the world. We are close to all locations in the world,” Sirika said.
Expressing appreciation for the top-notch Legend Lagos Airport Hotel, Dangote said the hotel could compete with any first class hotel in the world and urged government and FAAN management to build airport facilities that had similar quality as the hotel, expressing the hope that world’s largest passenger aircraft, A380 would soon land in Nigeria.
“It is really a great pleasure to be here today to celebrate this great hotel, which the CEO of Hilton described as the only hotel in the world which you will walk 10 steps to the aircraft. I am impressed with this kind of facility and the Minister; we rely on you so that in the next few years we will have an airport with this kind of quality. I would like to congratulate Sam Iwuajoku (CEO of Quits Aviation) and Hilton for building this kind of hotel here. We are happy to have this kind of facility in Nigeria,” Dangote said.