The nation’s economy is losing a whooping N4.3billion annually to lack of 24-hour operation by sunset airports across the country.
Recall that sunset airports are airports that do not have the infrastructure that enables flights to operate into the night.
As a result, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) limited few that have the infrastructure to only daylight operation, meaning that flights cannot service such airports after 6:30 pm.
Out of 22 airports managed by FAAN, only Abuja, Port Harcourt, Benin City, Enugu, Kano, and Kaduna airports have airfield lightning to enable flights land and take off on or after 6.30pm, while others are referred to as ‘Day Light’ airports.
The daylight airports are in Jos, Yola, Maiduguri, Anambra, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Ibadan, and Akure, with operational hours limit at 18.00 hours.
However, speaking at the 26th League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) Conference themed: Sunset Airports: Economic and Safety Implications’, the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Ibom Air,
George Uriesi, the Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air said lack of 24 hours flight operations to major routes in Nigeria was impeding the growth of the airlines.
According to him, the country’s carriers are losing an average of N4 million per flight, N12 million in every flight, N360 million in 90 flights and N4.3 billion annually on every flight lost to sunset airport operations.
Uriesi while delivering his paper, ‘Maximising Runway Utilisation: A Nigerian Airline Perspective,’ further disclosed that restrictions of airlines to daytime operation has led to a huge underutilization of aircraft fleets by the Nigerian airlines as against the global industry standards.
He said, “This is due partly because of too many impediments in the operating environment that limit airline productivity. These include limited runway availability across the domestic network, multiple operational infrastructure deficiencies, poor organisation and many others.”
However, to solve the challenge, Uriesi appealed to the government to prioritise airfield infrastructure and provide the necessary Instrument Landing System (ILS) and accompanying accessories for every airport, while also keeping the aerodromes open to meet the needs of airlines and other users.
Besides, he advised that the government should make current, approved master plans a regulatory requirement for every airport and illegalize non-adherence to the master plans by any organisation.
“Establishing a local aircraft lessor, financing vehicle that would allow for the domiciling of aircraft payments in local currency would make a huge difference to the air transport sector in Nigeria,” he added.