FAAN: 19 Nigerian Airports Not Economically Viable

The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Olubunmi Kuku, has stated that only three out of 22 airports under its management are profitable and contribute largely to the growth of the aviation sector.

Kuku, who was a guest on the Channels TV morning show on Tuesday, said that 19 of the nation’s airports under FAAN were being subsidised as they do not get passenger traffic commensurate to their operational cost.

She further said that the majority of the 22 airports managed by FAAN require maintenance and upgrades in critical infrastructure like the terminal areas, the landside as well as the airside.

The revelation by the FAAN MD tallies with findings by The PUNCH that only four out of over 30 airports in the country are economically viable, contributing N5.57tn to foreign trade in 51 months.

The four airports, which include Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Muritala Mohammed Airport, Kano and Port Harcourt, contributed a sum of N529.68bn in total exports and N5.05tn in imports between January 2020 and March 2024.

These statistics indicate that most airports are not economically viable to support foreign trade despite plans by various state governments to commence construction of airports purportedly to attract trade.

In the interview, the FAAN MD mentioned that the authority plans to provide cross-subsidies to certain new airports under development.

“I started by saying that we have 22 airports which we own and manage,” Kuku said.

“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 several states in the north as well as in the southwest 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.

“I would also say that we are 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,” she added.

Kuku mentioned that FAAN allocates 50 per cent of its revenue to the federal government, posing a significant challenge. She added that the authority was engaging in discussions with different branches of government to explore potential relief measures.

According to the FAAN boss, passenger traffic correlates more strongly with gross domestic product growth and economic activities rather than the construction of new airports.

Kuku emphasised the importance of prioritising activities 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.

She also mentioned that FAAN was working closely with international organizations such as the International Air Transport Association and the Federal Ministry of Aviation to enhance domestic and international route expansions.

Kuku also noted that there were ongoing initiatives aimed at developing Nigeria and transforming specific 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 some of the other locations and start to utilise our airports,” she said.

The FAAN boss also mentioned that close to four million passengers currently travel internationally from Nigeria, emphasising the critical importance of efficient infrastructure utilisation to sustain and upkeep the facilities.

Meanwhile, checks by one of our correspondents to analyse the contribution of state airports to foreign trade showed that they performed poorly when compared to other means of transportation.

Using the Foreign Trade Statistics report released by The National Bureau of Statistics between January 2020 and March 2024, the sector aided import and export trade worth N5.57tn in 51 months

This is, however, 3,000 per cent or N167.83tn less than the N173.4tn contributed by the Apapa port within the same period.

A further breakdown showed that N331.82bn worth of goods was exported, N197.86bn were re-exported, and N5.04tn was imported via the airports.

The Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos State recorded the highest amount with N2.59tn, followed by the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, Abuja with a total trade transaction of N740.75bn.

Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport got N743bn and N112.38bn.

The non-viable airports include Asaba Airport, Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, Bayelsa International Airport, MKO Abiola International Airport, Osun, uncompleted, Ekiti Cargo Airport, Anambra Cargo Airport, Umuleri, Abia Airport, Wachakal Airport, Damaturu, and Dutse International Airport.

Others are Lafia Airport, uncompleted, Kebbi Airport, Auchi Airport, Edo State, uncompleted, Zamfara Airport, Nasarawa Airport and Gombe Airport, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna, Benin, Owerri, Jos, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Yola, Bauchi, Akure, Ibadan, Ilorin, Calabar, Minna and Katsina airports.

(Punch, excluding headline)

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