The former Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, has said out of the 32 airports in the country, only four of them are economically sustainable.
He listed the airports to include:
- Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos (which generates about 50% of the entire revenue)
- Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja
- Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA)
- Port-Harcourt International Airport
He made these remarks during the second annual National Transport Technology Conference and Exhibition, which had the theme, ‘The Viability of State-Owned Airports: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward,’ and was held virtually on Tuesday.
Yusuf pointed out that many state-owned airports heavily rely on subsidies from their respective state governments merely to maintain the appearance of functionality.
Also speaking, the Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, emphasized that many state-owned airports are unviable and were built without considering the air traffic in the state.
He also highlighted that the increasing construction of airports by state governors places a growing regulatory burden on the agency.
Nuhu identified several challenges stemming from this situation, including financial stress on various agencies within the aviation sector, such as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and other related organizations.
Nuhu articulated thus, “We have been stretched beyond our capacity. How does an airport generate revenue when it operates only once a week?”
“Most of the airports are unviable; built without traffic in mind and leaving the burden to the Federal Government to shoulder. Airports should be a catalyst for economic development. It has to be well thought through. It becomes a problem when an airport will not generate economic returns.”
Contributing to the discussion, the President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye attributed the lack of thriving state-owned airports to inadequate funding.
She stressed that no business can thrive when an airport operates only one or two flights daily.
State government airports conduit pipe for embezzlement
Wole Shadare, an aviation journalist and participant in the webinar, alleged that many state government-led airport projects serve as conduits for embezzlement of public funds.
He expressed frustration that numerous state governors continue to build non-viable airports in their regions, subsequently transferring them to FAAN, which places additional pressure on the revenues generated by the only four viable airports.
Share estimated that not less than N374 billion had been expended on such projects by the states, which observers consider as mechanisms for misappropriating public funds rather than promoting economic interests.