in Features / ATM & Regulatory

A FAANtastic opportunity...

Posted 14 November 2018 · Add Comment

Chukwu Emeke looks at a new open investment plan in Nigeria.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), which manages more than 20 airports serving as a gateway into one of Africa’s leading economies, recently unveiled plans to offer four of its international airports to interested investors.
FAAN chief executive officer, Engineer Saleh Dunoma, said that apart from efforts to upgrade the pace of development for the nation’s airports, the decision is part of a modern approach to airport business involving the widening of scope for private investor engagement.
Five firms – Dentons, Rebel, WSP Parsons, Brinckerhoff and Proserve – have been appointed as transaction advisers to the government. The four airports involved are Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; and Port Harcourt International Airport.
Nigeria’s overall passenger traffic for January to September 2017 was 9.2 million and observers have expressed concerns as to whether this is enough to attract private investment.
However, Dunoma said: “Investors know what they are looking for; they want potential. The traffic is growing and Nigeria is the pivot of business in Africa. The consultants are working. When they finish the development of the business case and come up with the entire documentation that is needed, we can then present it to investors.”
He identified areas of potential investment as maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO) facilities, and development of agro-allied infrastructure, among others.
Dunoma appealed to local industry players to pool their resources and skills in order to attract investors to set up aircraft maintenance centres, for instance, as an alternative to using MRO services overseas.
Discussing complaints of high airport charges by service providers, Dunoma said: “It depends on who you are talking to. If you talk to airlines, they tell you the charges are high. If you talk to passengers, they tell you the ticket charges are high. As an airport operator, I will tell you the charges are not high at all.”
Lagos and Abuja international airports were certified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in 2017 and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) category one status, that was granted in 2010, was retained. Dunoma said efforts are being made to extend such certification to other airports.
“We brought another team of experts to look at the airports at Kaduna, Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt,” he said. “There is an on-going audit on safety and security, which looks at gaps that should be closed for certification. Very soon, we will certify these international airports and move to the domestic airports. This will be done within a given timeframe. The emphasis in aviation is safety and security.”
Dunoma stressed that the only way to succeed in airport business was to carry out the business seamlessly in order to build trust with airport users. “The airport keeps growing and so we must keep improving on technology. We have measures in place but when you address one security challenge, another one comes back in a different form. Improving on our security is a continuous thing.
“There are two contracts going on in Lagos and Abuja to cover all the restricted areas with CCTV. We are buying mobile technology with a camera that will cover up to seven kilometres. We have improved very much on security patrols and we are working on full CCTV coverage in the five international airports where we have additional infrastructure.
“By the time we have a perimeter fence, adequate CCTV coverage and other technologies, security will improve. It is continuous and we will continue to improve.”
He said Nigeria was one of the few countries that signed the Airports Council International (ACI) airports excellence in security (APEX) programme in 2017, adding that Nigeria has been at the forefront of striving to attain the highest levels of safety standards in Africa.
“Our goal is to certify all our international airports and we are working tirelessly to achieve that. We have taken the bold step to carry out the APEX in safety programmes in our international airports. The APEX review for Kano and Port Harcourt were carried out in March 2018, while reviews for Enugu and Kaduna airports will soon be completed,” he concluded.
 

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