The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Musa Yadudu said the possibility of having 24- hour operations in all the airports across the country was not feasible because of the enormous costs to keep them operational when just one or two flights operate to the aerodromes. Yadudu, who spoke to the media in Lagos yesterday, said nobody or airport authority would keep an aerodrome functional when there is no commensurate profit to be made from the venture.
He cited an instance where an airline wrote to the authority to operate 24 hours to Yola, stressing that after getting the letter, the authority wrote back to the carrier to give an assurance that it would mobilize equipment, personnel, and resources to the facility to aid seamless operations for the airline only for the carrier not to pursue the interest any longer.
His words: “The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) wants all airports to operate 24-hours. We are service providers and we would like to make money as every service provider does. Someone has to pay for the 24-hour service. Nobody keeps the airport open 24 hours for an airport that is not busy and has just one, two, or three airlines going to the place.” He noted that even in Europe and other developed places, so many airports still operate sunrise to sunset airport operations. An airline once wrote to FAAN that it wanted to operate at Yola airport. We looked at it and said we were not going to deny them the service.
Having to run a 24-hour operation is good but it takes a lot of effort and it costs so much. “We asked the airline for the feasibility study of running the service for at least six months. We do not want a situation where we start and less than two weeks you stop. We waited for the airline and we never saw the airline again. A lot goes into it like a fueller.
We don’t open airports for 24 hours anyhow,” he added. Most airline owners are operating their aircraft at half their capacities because of the absence of the requisite Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at most of the nation’s airports to guide pilots’ land and take off at night and during adverse weather conditions as is the trend all over the world.
At present, apart from the Lagos and Abuja airports, which operate late-night flights up to 11.30 pm –12 midnight because of scheduled international flights, the other airports cannot function beyond 6.30 pm as they are shut down due to the absence of ILS facilities. A former spokesman for liquidated Nigeria Airways, Mr. Chris Azu Aligbe recently said the country’s airports are closed by 6:00 pm, adding that an airline would have to induce the service providers to run into the night.