Africa: ‘Why Nigeria has no airport hubs’

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Despite Nigeria’s huge population, it has no airport hubs because it lacks terminals that can accelerate transit for passengers on domestic, regional and international flights, Chief Executive Officer, African Aviation Services Limited, Nick Fadugba, has said.

Besides facilities for passengers’ transit, local carriers are not strong enough to attract global partnership to offer passengers reliable services on routes beyond point-to-point, a development that is no longer fashionable among international carriers.

In an interview in Lagos, Fadugba said the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja were yet to qualify as a hub for West Africa because they do not command the kind of facilities that would attract global carriers as transit terminals to connect passengers to any where in the globe.

Fadugba said global carriers are attracted to airports with modern facilities where turn around time is swift, services are reliable and airlines could refuel and enjoy many economies of scale.

He said the weak status of many domestic carriers with limited aircraft fleet, unreliable schedules and lack of capacity to share interline and codeshare agreements with global carriers continue to undermine the drive for hub status for Nigerian airports.

Fadugba said airports in Accra, Cairo, Casablanca, Dakar, Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Johannesburg which have developed modern infrastructure and processes to attract global legacy carriers with aircraft fleet and network, Nigerian airports needed to be reworked to accommodate attractive hub facilities.

He said: “Nigerian airports still have a long way to go to become significant hubs in Africa because they have inadequate facilities that will facilitate seamless passengers’ transit.

“Government needs to tear down and build a modern terminal at Lagos Airport with at least three runways that will facilitate seamless connectivity. Government needs to urgently look at land facilities at the Abuja Airport and at least build two runways for easy connectivity.

“Developing an airport hub is not by accident but through careful planning and strategy . To achieve, this government should look at airport size, and the readiness of the airspace to accommodate the exponential traffic that it will trigger if modern facilities are put in place.

“This is what other countries have done by empowering their airlines, modernising their fleet, securing operational agreements and partnership to position them as catalyst for economic development.”

by Kelvin Osa Okunbor

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