Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, yesterday faulted the claims that the disputed Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 jets were stolen at the Lagos airport.

Over 1 million passengers were processed by the managers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos between January and March this year.

THE WILL gathered that a total of 323,751 passengers passed through the international wing during the period, out of which 149,557 passengers and 174,194 passengers arrived and departed respectively.

Statistics from the airport revealed that 402,519 arrived at the domestic wing while departure recorded 337,041 bringing the total number of passengers on the domestic routes to 739,560 between January and March.

A total of 17, 286 aircraft were recorded at the airport during the first quarter of the year, with records showing domestic aircraft movements were 12,744 while international aircraft had 4,542.

Speaking on the statistics, the Airport Manager South West, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba, said there was no significant drop as Lagos remained the business nerve centre of the country as most flights terminated at the airport.

Shin-Aba explained that there was a gradual reawakening from the COVID-19 trouble even with the second wave not discouraging passengers from travelling.

She said: “It is like a gradual reawakening, a gradual restart away from the COVID issue, there came the second wave but that did not discourage people from travelling, so it is growing gradually.”

On COVID-19 protocols, the Airport Manager remarked: “You see, I used to tell people that if there is one thing the airport has been able to do is that as soon as you get into the airport environment this COVID protocol is activated. You can get to town everywhere, you don’t see people obeying it but as soon as you get to the airport, we enforce it, people would not want to cooperate but we are enforcing it; but for staff and passengers, people are cooperating.

“If you don’t put on your mask, we wouldn’t allow you into the terminal building and even if you are in the terminal building and you remove it we have some task force going around correcting people: Please, mask up. So there has been a lot of cooperation from the passengers as well as other airport users.”

She, however, noted with displeasure the number of family members escorting their travelling passenger to the airport.

“We have been having some challenges along that area, you know our culture the way we do things, one person is travelling, 10 people will follow; but we still try as much as possible to discourage people,” she said.

The Airport Manager noted that the challenge they were having with VIPs parking indiscriminately at the departure area had reduced as there was a task force in place consisting of other security agencies that advised them to move down

Shin-Aba revealed that there were a lot of security arrangements, as well as layers of security both at the landside and airside put in place with regular meetings of the security committee.

She said: “We have a standing Airport Security Committee that meets regularly; and when there is any red alert we come together to strategise how to best work it out in preventing any occurrence. And honestly, we have very good synergy between the security agencies, even the Air Force. We have a nice synergy, although we have a military airport commandant. Even the Tactical Air Command works with us. We have the Commissioner of Police, Airport Command, the Director of security services and Comptroller of Immigration, Comptroller of Customs. We all come together and synergise, share information so that we are not caught unawares.”

She lamented the poor power supply to the airport, saying that of the two power stations feeding the airport, Ejigbo and Isolo, Ejigbo had been down for some time and this had led to poor power supply.

She explained that COVID-19 negatively affected the finances of the organisation.

In her words: “The disadvantage of COVID-19, that is what affects us the most, it has affected our income as an organisation, airlines are not coming back due to the pandemic, people are not travelling as they used to.

“For the advantage, let me say the consciousness and the new normal, doing things in a different way, people now can work from home although our environment really doesn’t encourage that. Our own is providing services, and you have to move, you have to meet people, you have to work. But all the same, meetings now are done virtually.”

She advised passengers to reduce the number of people coming to the airport with them and get to the airport on time as a result of protocols, adding that they were working to ensure passengers comfort, safety and security of every airport user.

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