The federal government has insisted that concession of airport facilities remains the best option to attract private sector funding for airport development.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said there would be no going back on the policy because concession remains the best option for infrastructural renewal of the airports.
He said that the federal government would lay a solid foundation for the takeoff of the programme so that succeeding administration would continue from where the present one stopped.
Despite protests from labour and workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Minister noted that there has not been any reliable alternative to concession proffered by those who oppose the plan.
Our correspondent spoke to airline operators who said that concession may be the solution to the infrastructure deficit at the airports, noting that when transparently carried out, concession would provide alternative funding to the nation’s airport development.
The Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema said that concession could be the answer to poor airport facilities and stressed that it should be transparently done.
According to him, if that if that would modernise airport facilities that would be good for the operators.
The CEO of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole spoke in the same vein, noting that government may not be able to fund airport infrastructure, therefore, the private sector must come in to develop the airports.
Reacting to the wish of the airline operators to see the airports concessioned, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman noted that concession should be the answer to airport development.
In a recent chat with our correspondent, Usman :“Well, it is very interesting and I am happy to hear that people appreciate the need to try something else in the proper management of the airports because if over the years, for the past several years, our airports have not been able to achieve that potential especially in view of the fact that God has made us a natural hub for air transportation. And we have not been able to take advantage of that natural position given to us freely by God because everything was centred on the government; even though we know that aviation is a major player in the GDP of any country.”
Usman said that it is obvious that government resources are limited so it becomes pertinent that alternative sources of funding should be sought.
“But we all know also that where the resources are limited there are other priorities. Now having said that, the only way forward which is what is done worldwide now, is the concession of the airports. This is whereby the airports are not actually sold but a genuine investor or a group of investors are allowed to come in and invest, taking advantage of our natural location whereby the investor will make his money and also government will make its own money based on the agreements reached between the two parties. When this is done well it frees the federation account for other things to be used to meet other social needs. And also with that we will be able to have modern facilities for travel,” he said.