The Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and also President of Airport Council International (ACI), Mr. Saleh Dunoma, has announced the hosting of the 59th ACI Regional Conference by the agency.
Explaining the imports of the conference during a media roundtable in Lagos, he noted that the summit will among other things drive managers of African airports towards total repositioning of the infrastructure for increased passenger volume, particularly business travellers and tourists.
According to him, African continent witnessed a nine percent increase in tourism in 2017, the highest increase in any region, stressing that there is need to deepen the rise in performance through exchange programmes like the 59th regional summit coming up in Nigeria in April.
Business Hilights gathered that ACI-Africa, is an association of Africa’s airports, and part of the Airport Council International (ACI), the global trade representative of airport authorities throughout the world.
Dunoma averred that “With over 50 members operating 250 airports in 47 countries throughout the continent, ACI was the voice of African airports – leading, representing and serving the African airport community”.
He said the conference will raise issues bordering on how African will discard the thought that airports are government entities and therefore should not be expected to make profits.
According to him, most African airports lacked drive for profitable management but noted that once they are regarded as business entities, the airports would make more revenues for the government and operate profitably.
He noted that with less than 20 percent of commercial revenue, airports in Africa must transform themselves from being not just public service providers, but commercial enterprises that generate profits.
“Over the years, African airports have been run mainly as government entities without the drive for profitable management. This has resulted in many airports being classified as non-viable and unable to meet their operational costs.
“This has posed a major problem in the efficient running of nonviable airports who are unable to cater for their maintenance and operational needs thereby leading to stakeholder and customer service dissatisfaction’’.
Additional details released during the media briefing showed that the conference, which would hold from April 14 to April 20 in Lagos, was coming up a few months after 23 African countries signed the Single African Air Travel Market (SAATM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In his further submission, FAAN boss described the SAATM as having the potential to transform and revolutionise aviation business on the continent.
Continuing, he noted that “According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an open skies agreement among Africa’s 12 biggest economies could see passenger traffic soar by 81 percent to about 11 million.
“It could generate 155,000 new jobs, adding $1.3 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is estimated that SAATM could provide 17,400 jobs in Nigeria and contribute $128 million to our GDP.
“SAATM is an indication that change is in the air – less than 20 percent of revenues African airports generate is commercial. African airports must transform to embrace this change.”
On the chosen theme for the conference which is ‘Business Transformation for Sustainable Development of African Airports,’ Dunoma said the “A greater focus on customer service guarantees improved profitability, optimal use of infrastructure and sustainability of the business”.
“Among other things, the conference will push for a change in the perception of business in African airports.
“A change in how the business of African airports is viewed is necessary to realise the vaunted benefits of SAATM.
“Alongside the meetings and conference, airports, service providers and aviation companies will exhibit their products and services at a large-scale exhibition,” FAAN boss noted.
This is the third time Nigeria is playing host the rest of African aviation professionals under the ACI-Africa.