The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Thursday disclosed that the Lagos office of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) would soon be demolished to pave way for the take off of the aerotropolis (airport cites) project,a key project on the aviation sector roadmap. Sirika said the project would get off the ground before the Buhari administration winds down on May 29.
He also listed the national carrier, Nigeria Air, as another project designed to take off before the end of the current administration.
Sirika made the disclosures in Abuja at the National Aviation Stakeholders Forum.
He said: “FAAN/NAMA in Lagos will be demolished and a proper aerotropolis setup with cinema, shopping malls, among others. It sounds ambitious but it will happen before we leave. It involves the development of Nigeria’s major commercial airports and surrounding communities into efficient, profitable and self-sustaining commercial hubs through increased private sector participation and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will create jobs and grow the local industry.
“The project will be structured as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement where the private partner will be required to design, develop, finance and maintain the aerotropolis during the agreed period. The Aerotropolis will contain the full complement of commercial facilities that support airlines and aviation linked businesses. Other components of the project include the development of hospitality and tourism oriented real estate assets and ancillary support infrastructure.
“It is in the procurement phase. From there, the selection of the preferred partner and we commence negotiation.
“We will demolish necessary structures to have it. It’ll be one of our major projects before we leave. Same with the national carrier.
“The terminal building in Enugu won’t be completed before I leave because of budgetary constraints but we’ve gone far.”
The Minister also used the occasion to reassure the aviation community that the ongoing airport concession programme is not a veiled way of selling public property as being touted in some quarters.
He reiterated that no job would be lost in the process as the government is duty bound to recruit more workers to man the new airport terminals handed to it by various states.
“FAAN is taking over many state-owned airports and will need more people to work there. “We are not and won’t sell public properties. We’re not selling assets like it was done before, yet no value for the country. But we have to concession to get robust private sector expertise.
“MMIA was built for 200,000 passengers per annum but it is doing 8 million per annum. That’s 40 times the capacity and we can’t have that. There’s massive chaos in Lagos,” Sirika said.
On the proposed Aviation Leasing Company, another project in the roadmap, the Minister said it is awaiting FEC approval and would commence operation by the second quarter of this year.
“The ALC will provide leasing oppourtunities for Nigerian and African airlines in order to boost fleet size, alleviate the problem of aircraft leasing and high insurance premium charges. Full Business Case (FBC) completed and certificate of compliance issued by the ICRC.
“The Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) is also on course. It would be a private sector- driven centre. It is critical for the diversification and repositioning of the aviation industry as it provides aircraft repairs, overhaul and maintenance services.
“Currently, this facility does not exist in the whole of West and Central Africa. MRO is therefore a necessary requirement to facilitate development of the aviation industry. The proposed facility will have the capacity to serve both Narrow and Wide Body aircraft maintenance requirements and will be located in Abuja.
“Only few countries have MROs; Egypt, Morocco and Ethiopia. Nigeria, the biggest economy in Africa with 215 million population should have one. It’s so inconvenient and expensive to have to queue to fix your aircraft. So, the Full Business Case is completed and it has been approved by FEC,” he said.
On the African Aerospace University, he said the institution was designed to address the dearth of high-level management workers in the aviation industry and has since taken off.