Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Musa Nuhu, has said one of the many reasons some airports are restricted to sunrise – sunset flight operations in Nigeria is to eliminate or mitigate the safety implications and challenges of night operations.
He spoke just as it emerged that Nigerian airlines lose at least N4.3bn annually due to the inability of most airports to operate for 24 hours.
Our correspondent reports that apart from the major international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, other airports in Nigeria are tagged sunset airports as they cannot operate beyond 6 or 7 p.m. daily.
The DG, represented by the Director of Airports and Aerodrome Standard, Tayib Odunowo, spoke at the 26th conference of League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents held in Lagos, with the theme: “Sunset Airports: Economic and Safety Implications.”
Some of the challenges he itemised that are militating against 24-hour operation are inadequate infrastructure; airports poor financial outlays; security risks and threats; inadequate Airport and ANS Infrastructure; traffic level; airline capacity among others.
He disclosed that Nigeria needs over N1.5 trillion Naira or 5 billion US dollars to fix the airport infrastructure gap in the country, quoting the African Development Bank (2019) report.
He said, “There are issues involving fire cover, primary and secondary power sources, provision of communication, navigation and surveillance aids, automatic weather stations and now-casting equipment among others.
He however said the challenges can be addressed by developing Air Navigation Services (ANS); Airport infrastructure; developing Ancillary Infrastructure; Aerotropolis and others.
He noted that maintenance and service delivery at many airports in Nigeria are still seen as a great disincentive to travelling and tourism, advising that a lot needs to be done to make the airports economic tools for Nigeria’s development.
Chief Operating Officer (COO), Ibom Air, George Uriesi, stated that airlines are bleeding because of lack of 24 hours flight operations to major routes in Nigeria.
In his presentation on “Maximising Runway Utilisation: A Nigerian Airline Perspective,” he disclosed that 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 to sunset airport operations.
He said while aircraft are designed to operate for 24 hours, they are underutilised because of the operational restriction caused by the absence of required facilities to operate for 24 hours at most airports in Nigeria.
To address the problem, 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.