The Managements of two Aviation parastatals, the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) have disagreed on the continuous use of the Nigerian Airforce Base, Port Harcourt for commercial flights especially as it concerns revenue collection.
While FAAN believed that the closure of the Military base in operating commercial flights would increase the revenue generation of the Authority for the Federal Government, NAMA insisted that since the commencement of the base in 2006, when the Port Harcourt International Airport was closed for rehabilitation, the Agency has raked in some monies through commercial flight.
Both FAAN and NAMA made positions known when they presented separate address when their Board of Directors undertook a facility tour of the Port Harcourt Airport.
The Regional manager, of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Mr. Uche Nwanguma said pointblank that the closure of the NAF base, Port Harcourt from operating commercial passenger flights would encourage more domestic and International flights, at the airport resulting in increased revenue base of the Authority.
According to Mr. Nwanguma, before closure of Port Harcourt Airport, Omagwa in August, 2006, the airport was making between N81 million and N83 million monthly for aero-nautical and non-aeronautical. But regretted that since the airport was re-opened two years ago, and the continuous operations of commercial and passengers flights at the Airforce base the airport now generates between N30 million and N33 million far less that its initial earning, due to the continuous operations of the commercial flight at the airforce base.
In his own submission, the Airspace Manager, Mr. H.C. Okoro, said the Agency was operating N12 million for helicopter and fixed wing operations during the closure of Port Harcourt International Airport, but generates N8 million monthly since the airport reopened. He described the situation as unsatisfactory.
Mr. Okoro said that the revenue of the NAMA also dropped from N150 million to N130 million between June 2007 and June, 2009, when the Port Harcourt Airport was re-opened.
During the visits of the two board of directors of FAAN and NAMA, their managements had complained that the organisations have been battling with poor infrastructure and equipment over the years, and appealed to the board to ensure that some of the equipment are given face lift.
FAAN also complained that the terminal building constructed over 30 years ago to accommodate domestic and International operations is on breaking point while the apron built to handle six B737 aircraft at peace period now accommodate modern day-bodied aircraft.
The FAAN Regional Manager in Port Harcourt is worried that the run-way recently rehabilitated is low and needs upgrading to precession approach category 3 with runway centre lights.
He, however, noted that after the re-opening of the airport in the year 2007, the fire cover was low at category 7 till 2008 when the Rivers State Government assured the airport with two fire fighters 1 and 2 of 4500 litres and 450 foam capacity. He said the development has boosted fire cover of the airport to category 9.
But NAMA noted the unserviceable elevator leading to the control tower which has caused Monumental suffering to air traffic controller who ply the stairs daily.
It would be recalled that in 2000, the Federal Government ban the use of military base for commercial and passenger flights. This situation then, forced Dana Air which was mainly operating chartered flight from the base to stopped operations.
COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff
At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.
This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.
S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS
South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.
Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.
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