The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Musa Yadudu said it would be costly for the agency to maintain 24 hours operations at all the airports in Nigeria. He disclosed that only few airports are self-sustaining, saying for them to operate for that period it would require huge funding, which the authority cannot afford.
Yadudu who spoke to the media in Lagos, yesterday, said nobody or airport authority would keep an aerodrome functional when there is no commensurate profit to be made from the venture, noting that in many of the airports flights only operate few times a week.
Yadudu cited an instance where an airline wrote to the authority to operate 24 hours to Yola, stressing that after getting the letter, the authority wrote back to the carrier to give an assurance that it would mobilise equipment, personnel and resources to the facility to aid seamless operations for the airline only for the carrier not to pursue the interest any longer.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria wants all airports to operate 24-hours. We are service providers and we would like to make money like every service providers do.
“Someone has to pay for the 24-hour service. Nobody keeps airport open 24 hours for an airport that is not busy and has just one, two or three airlines going to the place.”
He noted that even in Europe and other developed places, so many airports still operate sunrise to set airport service.
“An airline once wrote to FAAN that it wanted to operate to Yola airport. We looked at it and said we were not going to deny them the service. Having to run a 24-hour operation is good but it takes a lot of effort and it costs so much.
“We asked the airline for the feasibility study of running the service for at least six months. We do not want a situation where we start and less than two weeks you stop. We waited for the airline and we never saw the airline again. A lot goes into it like fuellers. We don’t open airports for 24 hours anyhow”, he added.
He also said most airline owners were operating their aircraft at half their capacities because of the absence of the requisite Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at most of the nation’s airports to guide pilots’ land and take off at night and during adverse weather conditions as is the trend all over the world.
“At present, apart from the Lagos and Abuja airports, which operate late night flights up to 11.30pm -12 mid night because of scheduled international flights, the other airports cannot function beyond 6.30pm as they are shut down due to the absence of ILS facilities,” he said.