FG reveals fresh plans, benefits from Lagos, Abuja airports 

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, SAN, has  said the Nigeria Air project undertaken by the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, remains suspended.

Keyamo announced the suspension of the project shortly after he was appointed minister nine months ago.

The minister also revealed that plans are underway to ensure a steady power supply to international airports that run 24 hour-service with solar energy, explaining that the initiative would eliminate waste and save the federal government over N1 billion monthly.

Keyamo, who disclosed this in Abuja on Monday while reeling out the achievement of his ministry during the ministerial press briefing organized by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation, said for efficiency, the concession of all the major airports would be reviewed.

He said: “The Nigeria Air remains suspended, it was never Air Nigeria, and it was Ethiopian Air trying to fly our flag. It was not Air Nigeria, there was Air Nigeria, but it was only painted as Air Nigeria.”

He said the amount being spent on electricity to operate the international airports has been on the high side, adding that the government has no choice but to install solar power in some airports on 24-hour service, especially Lagos and Abuja, to save cost.

According to him, it was worrisome that about N1 billion was incurred on electricity monthly at Lagos airport.

He added: “We are making conscious and gradual efforts towards embracing eco-friendly practices which is what the world is about now. Eco-friendly practices and green technologies in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard on the long-term global aspiration goal of net-zero emissions in the aviation sector is what we are targeting.

“They want us to apply the type of fuel that does not burn so much, i.e. low carbon emission, they want us to do green airports and that is why we want to eliminate the use of diesel to run our airports gradually.

“We have more than 50 proposals on our table and the Permanent Secretary can attest to that. People are coming to say they want to run our airports on solar energy with their money and that would save us so much every month.

“Lagos airport alone, I am told we do N1 billion monthly on electricity and I said why? I am still trying to crack that. The first thing I told them to do is to bypass the DisCos and go to the GenCos because we are eligible users. So, why do we pay Disco that will add its own profit? So, we want to cut them off and go to the GenCos straight. We are doing that and those concerned are protesting and trying to meet Mr. President.

“By bypassing, we are saving 30 per cent, so if we are supposed to pay N1 billion, we will pay N700 million in terms of consumption because unlike some other airports that we shut down by 6 pm, Lagos and Abuja airports are run 24 hours. All the international airports must run for 24 hours because of flights coming in internationally.

“Airports are very expensive to run, so we want to run on solar and we have so many proposals to turn them into green environments. The investors are bringing their money, so we are transiting to that.”

On the poor state of some of the airports, Keyamo said: “I have told Mr. President that we are starting the concession process all over again to make it more transparent. The concession of our major airports is important and it has long been agreed that the bureaucracy cannot run public infrastructure, it is impossible.

“The bureaucracy is too much, people are sweating at the airport and you need to pass files around from directors to Permanent Secretary to be signed and then take it to FEC just to change one chiller or elevator that broke down.

“The file has to pass through about 15 tables and people will be shouting at the airports that the Minister is mad and the file will still be passing for about six months for approval and then start waiting for releases from Budget.

“Until we do full concession of the airports and they are run professionally like private businesses, we are going to have these problems of bad toilets, damaged air conditioners, bad chairs, bad elevators and others.”