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.