A tale of two airports’ eras
It is inconceivable, two years ago, that any Nigerian aviation agency, in the face of the recent classification of the nation’s three foremost international airports; Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja and Port Harcourt International Airport being among the 10 worst in Africa, would readily admit to this grim reality. In fact, Port Harcourt airport actually earned the shocking distinction of being rated the worst in the world.
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma, admitted publicly to the gross inadequacies of the facilities in all the airports. Dunoma, who was addressing the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Aviation, recently, in Abuja, reportedly “lamented that the equipment and facilities at the airports like the generators, air conditioners, elevators and conveyor belts were not functioning as expected again because the agency could not afford modern ones to replace old ones.”
In truth, this change in orientation began when the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, with uncommon candour, declared, early this year, that the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), the only privately-run airport in the country, was not only the number one but also the only terminal with a pass mark in performance in the whole country.
In making the announcement, Chidoka submitted “Aviation industry in other countries contributes in the double digits to their GDP, but in Nigeria it is 0.4 per cent to the GDP. We also decided to find out from our passengers how they feel about Nigerian airports. We contracted a polling company to question the passengers and the result we got from them is that most of our airports are underperforming. They ranked most of our airports below average, only MMA2 (domestic terminal, Lagos airport) came out with a 3.2 score out of 5.”
Similarly, while inaugurating some innovative equipment procured by MMA2 to improve its operations, in June, this year, Chidoka noted “I think MMA2 has offered the template about how government should go about the issue of the operations of airports in the country. Feelers from the stakeholders in the industry including the pilots, grand handlers, etc. also gave it to MMA2.
“This technology is wholly welcome, and MMA2 is putting us into it and we want to believe that the improvement in passengers’ experience in MMA2, the continuous quest for improvement, the continuous quest for excellence, will be sustained. This continuous improvement is something I would like other managers of airports in Nigeria to begin to emulate.