We tackle the challenges of the aviation industry headlong – FAAN MD

The Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu, described the measures taken by the agency to address challenges in the aviation industry. He spoke with aviation correspondents, SULEIMAN IDRIS brought excerpts.

The aviation industry in the country is undoubtedly currently facing multiple challenges. What concrete steps have been taken for the creation of a hub at airports, in particular Lagos airport, as well as the planned connection of international and local airports to facilitate passenger facilitation?

The question of the Lagos airport hubs is a subject that we have been working on for a very long time and which is long overdue. From now on, the government is driving it aggressively through FAAN. By aggressively, I mean we’ve already gone far in processing for the company that can do it. We are working with the Office of Public Enterprises (BPE) and we already have our designs and we are going through design selection. We are in the active sourcing stage; we went to the stage of going to the BPE.

We are working with the Lagos State Government and our own engineers to develop a rail system that will connect the old International Terminal and General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at Lagos Airport to the new International Terminal. This is to facilitate passenger facilitation. You cannot have a hub airport where there is no direct or indirect connectivity between the two terminals, especially since passengers have to transit. And of course there is a lot of luggage that needs to be moved from one terminal to another.

We had a very solid master plan for this airport, but along the way, over the years, we had challenges that made it practically very difficult to make this connection. But, for now, we are working on it, through setting up a rail system and of course working with the airlines to see what we can do to establish their own connectivity for baggage and other personal effects. of their passengers with other terminals. It’s being processed, but we haven’t reached BPE yet. I believe we will have it ready by the end of the year.

We are working in full collaboration with the Lagos State Government given their work to connect most of the state to the Ikeja Bus Stand and we are working to see what we can do to see that we let’s do the integration so that between the Ikeja bus stop there will be a connecting bridge that will connect to the airport, near this national gas station. We are actively working on it and I believe that in the next four to five months we will see it on the pitch.

There is also a security reason why we really want to make it an up station. There is demand and there are many passengers arriving. Recently, you saw Ethiopian Airlines, which started flying from Lome to the United States. It’s because of Lagos. How many passengers are there in Lomé? There is huge potential that Nigeria and Nigerians are not taking. So they operate Lomé to the USA because there are a lot of passengers. I think they operate about three or four flights from Lagos and Abuja. And they feed Lomé to fly to the United States because of the inconvenience of facilitation in Lagos. So this new initiative, if we can connect by rail, which has the potential to carry more passengers, it’s much easier than buses. And then the baggage shuttle will be much easier for all of us.

How far did the planned relocation of the Abuja airport control and fire towers go?

This is something that is an operational consideration. At the moment we wanted to move it, then the pressure of the second track in Abuja came. It has already been approved by Mr. President. There is a plan and design to build a second tower on the other side near the second track. So we consider it nice to have two towers for more efficiency.

We already move the current one to this side and we have the main one, which could be the permanent one at the location of the new track. Now, when we have both, at the implementation stage, we will see if it will be possible to have maybe one that will be the master tower or the only one. At this stage, the second has not yet been built but we are looking at both. We will keep this one and that one.

But once it arrives, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will review it and see what we can do, either to integrate the two or cancel one and have one. The key consideration is connectivity in terms of ground movement and line of sight so the tower can see all ground activity taking place at the airport. These are the main factors that determine whether it is possible or not. Although we have so much on paper and in design, it’s when they’re built that we can really know, from a direct evidence standpoint, and determine whether we’re keeping one or using both.

Remember that in many airports you can even have two. It depends on the scope of activities that each controls. We can have one doing most of the airspace and maybe some ground control, and then the other doing most of the control near its own vicinity. At many airports you can get two frequencies.

As for a fire station, we are trying to make another fire station on the GAT side. This is pretty much a work in progress and we are actively working with NAMA and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as anything to do with fire and control tower is not a exclusive reserve of the FAAN. It involves these three agencies. Right now we are working on both. But, along the way, practical challenges will arise that will prompt us to make one particular decision for the other. So we have two now. But, what about both; how they communicate and control airspace and ground movement will be determined as they progress and become active.

What are the challenges of the redesign of the underground car park of the international wing of Murtala Muhammad airport?

We started working on the redesign of the underground car park two years ago. I think it’s happening slowly because there are challenges. And you know it’s not entirely empty. There is material stored there. Even if we revamp it, I don’t think we’ll start using it. Before they start using it, we need to make sure we fix all the security issues first.

Even if we solve them, we must be sure that the government will support us because there is another characteristic of security challenges across Nigeria. In a situation like this, the smallest thing can lead to the implosion of the entire airport. So, it will only take someone with the wrong intention to bring the whole airport down below themselves. That’s why we cleaned the entire pool of water that accumulates. But, usage might not be in the near future. We have to make sure we coordinate security and maybe get buy-in. We do an assessment to see if we have security coverage. Is it really necessary and is it worth it, given the risks? It will only take 0.01% time lapse for someone to undermine the entire airport. This is our main challenge.

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