The Director of Government, Legal and Industry Affairs, African Airlines Association, Mr Aaron Munetsi, has said Africa’s over 400 airports are grossly underutilised.
According to him, the continent is in dire need of improved air connectivity, noting that the total utilisation of the airports is only about 19 per cent.
Munetsi gave the position at the recently concluded 15th AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market in Lagos.
He said, “The airports that we have are underutilised. Statistics that were shared recently by IATA show that all the airports in Africa are only utilised up to only 19 per cent which means 80 per cent are redundant.
“Even in the busiest airport, 80 per cent are redundant so the idea is to make sure the ones that we have are utilised to the max. When we have met and exceeded the required capacity, we can think of building new airports.”
According to him, policies, processes and procedures guided by discipline will drive the industry’s growth.
Muntesi, who spoke with other aviation experts, stated that the problem of multiple taxation across countries on the continent had continued to hinder the growth of the industry.
Munetsi said African governments should explore other aspects of their economies in order to get revenue and stop imposing unnecessary charges on airlines.
He said, “The rate at which airlines are taxed is alarming. Sometimes airlines are charged just for writing their names on the boarding pass.
“Charging Africans to pay for visas is an act of poverty. African governments must look for other means of making money but not through multiple taxation.”
He said the Single Africa Air Transport Market was adopted by the African Union to achieve the objective of liberalising air transportation among Africans and increasing connectivity.
According to him, African airlines should be allowed to operate anywhere within the continent as this will create a healthy bond and unity among Africans.
Munetsi said, “The weather of the various African countries is an advantage for Africans to properly groom the aviation industry to the western world admiration. The African free trade zone can only be successful if the African airports and airlines are positioned to be efficient in terms of service delivery.
“The role of governments is to create an enabling environment through access to capital for airlines and development of airport infrastructure. An aviation sector that is privately-driven and modelled after the best practices is key to growing the African economy.”
Aviation expert, Mr Chris Aligbe, stated that the Federal Government should implement the concession of airports to develop the industry.
According to him, airports in the country will perform better under concessionaires as the Federal Government lacks the ability to finance modern airport infrastructure.
Nigeria Saves $500,000 From Calibration Aircraft – Minister
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that Nigeria will be saving a lot of money from the acquisition of a custom made calibration aircraft recently acquired by the Federal Government.
Sirika who disclosed this while speaking to aviation correspondents in Abuja, Tuesday, said the purpose of the aircraft was to calibrate navigational equipment and aid the country for the purpose of flight operations.
The aircraft which is worth about $8.5 million, according to the minister, will be commercialised to generate revenue, and keep the industry safe.
“We used to have one in Nigeria, but for the last two decades, we never had any. What propelled us to procure this aircraft was that while we were reconstructing the Abuja runway, we needed to recalibrate all those landing aids. That is the standard requirement and this is to ensure they are working in perfect order.
“The last time Nigeria had such aircraft was 20 years ago under cover aviation flying unit. We did not have the capacity as a country, the only people close to us that had is ASECNA which is owned by French speaking countries, but the aircraft is domiciled in Niger.
“We approached them but they did not have a slot for us. If I hadn’t got the support of far away South Africa, we would not beat the six weeks deadline.
“Nigeria will be saving a lot of money by procuring this aircraft. I know I paid about $500,000 when our equipment was due to South African contractor to carry out the task.
“ If you say every six months, we will do this, and that would be half a million dollars every six months. So when we do it sixteen times, the value of the aircraft would have been paid. Not only that, we will commercialise it to generate revenue and keep our industry safe “, Sirika said.
The minister, however, explained that it took about nine months from when the request was made to the completion and installation of the equipment.
The Tide reports that the aircraft was built in Textron Aviation Services, Kansas in the United States, and it is expected to improve safety in the aviation industry.
PH Airport Manager Seeks Safety Awareness, Education At Airports
The Safety Manager, Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Mr Oguche Samuel, has harped on the need for continuous awareness and education on safety at the nation’s airports.
He said the continuous safety education would create awareness to staff and stakeholders at the airports on their safety responsibilities.
Samuel disclosed this while addressing participants at the safety promotion day at the airport which focused on Foreign Object Deris (FOD),
He urged participants and staff to be good safety ambassadors in their day to day activities, stressing that safety is one of the core values of FAAN.
Meanwhile, the management of the Port Harcourt International Airport has keyed into the Airport Emergency Plan programme as plans are in full gear towards the certification of the airport.
The Tide reliably learnt that the management of the airport recently took steps in training staff in relevant departments on emergency plan.
Instructors from Accra in Ghana, it was gathered, were invited to train some of the staff of the airport in the later part of last year.
The training was aimed at developing staff capacity to effectively and efficiently handle emergency response with the certification of the airport.
FAAN Moves To Check Security Threats At Airside
Following reported cases of intrusion into airside at the nation’s airports, particularly at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at nights, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu has taken steps to install thermal and infrared cameras for airside monitoring and patrol.
The introduction of thermal and infrared cameras is meant to monitor and expose happenings or any intruder who manages to gain access to airports, especially at nights.
FAAN, in a press statement on Tuesday, said it took the steps because anything that happens at the airside, has a ripple effect on the aviation industry.
“We are mostly particular about the airside because at the end of the day, security and safety are paramount and anything that happens at the airside has a ripple effect and we are here to ensure that our airports are safe.
FAAN posited that it is a dangerous practice to go and open aircraft cargo door because of the engine blast which might occur on the process.
“The proximity switch and the plunder could vibrate when the engine level is moved above idle running; for some seconds, the light may flash and warning light will remain off. It is even an easy thing to open the cargo door while the engine is running.
“Rotation of the handle activates a torque tube to withdraw the latch rollers from the latch fitting and as the door swings on board under tension of the door balance mechanism, the door warning proximity switch is activated to energize the appropriate door warning in the control cabin to alert the Crewe”, FAAN stated.
Enumerating other efforts being made to tackle the problem, FAAN explained that the Authority has put patrol vans fitted with cameras on the dashboard to capture the environment during patrol, saying although this might be a temporary measure.
Our correspondent reports that there were reports of incidents of intruders allegedly opening the cargo compartment of aircraft either taxing or holding on the runway, particularly at the Lagos airport, which had become a cause of concern to FAAN management.
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