N23.1bn not enough for airport upgrade- FAAN MD

The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Olubunmi Kuku, has stated that the N23.1bn allocated for rehabilitating and repairing airport facilities nationwide is grossly insufficient.

Kuku revealed this during an interview on The Morning Brief, a Channels TV programme on Tuesday.

He said that the airports, terminal areas, landsides and air sides as some of those things that require urgent improvements and the amount appropriated may not suffice.

Kuku emphasised that the aviation sector, particularly airports, is critical and requires substantial capital investment.

”When you refer to N23.1 billion or N23 billion, it may not actually scratch the surface if you look at where we are in terms of infrastructure development and upgrades. Yes, we do have some money earmarked for capital-intensive projects this year, and maybe slightly more.

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“What I do want to say is that the Federal Government through FAAN actually has 22 airports under our domain which we manage.”

She explained that the authority is subsidising the remaining 19 airports and will extend this support to some of the new airports under development.

We also have about six or seven airports that are either owned by state governments or private individuals or entities which we also support with either aviation security or fire and rescue services.

“We have a number of states in the north as well as in the south-west that are coming up with new airports.

“I would say that based on the stats today, only three of the 22 airports are actually profitable and contribute largely to the sustenance of the airport companies that we run.

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“I would also say that we are actually cross-subsidising the other 19 airports today and in most instances, we will substitute or cross-subsidise for some of the airports that are coming on board as well.”

Kuku mentioned that FAAN allocates 50 per cent of its revenue to the federal coffers, which presents a significant challenge.

She noted that the authority is currently in talks with different branches of government to seek relief.

She explained that passenger traffic is influenced more by Gross Domestic Product growth and economic activities than by the construction of new airports.

Kuku emphasised the importance of focusing on key sectors like trade, manufacturing, and tourism to boost airport traffic.

“Rather than building new airports, we need to look at the bottom of the value chain to determine what activities can drive traffic into these airports,” Kuku said.

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She added that FAAN is working closely with international organizations, such as the International Air Transport Association and the Federal Ministry of Aviation, to expand domestic and international routes.

Kuku mentioned that there are initiatives aimed at transforming Nigeria and certain airports within the country into transit hubs.

“What that means is that we start to build a network of airports where we can push our feeders to some of the other states or to some of the other locations and start to utilise our airports,” she said.

She highlighted that almost 4 million passengers travel internationally from Nigeria, stressing the importance of efficient infrastructure use for the upkeep and sustainability of these facilities.

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