…faults claims of insufficient space
By Isaac Tersoo Agber
Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of the second wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) Lagos, has assured the air traveling public and airlines that the terminal is set and technically ready to kick off regional flight operations. The company has faulted claims by some dream-killers that insufficient space for parking aircraft was delaying the commencement of international operations at its terminal.
It would be recalled that BASL, in its bid to improve on Nigeria’s airport infrastructure and better the lot of airline operations, had obtained authorisation from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to commence regional operations at MMA2 as set out in the concession agreement between the two. This, however, still requires regulatory approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) before commencing operations.
In a statement, BASL said the delay in obtaining NCAA’s approval had nothing to do with the size of its apron or any other operational issues, explaining that various teams of inspectors from NCAA and other statutory agencies, including the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Port Health Service supervised its preparation for the international operations to ensure that it complied with all the requirements.
The company noted that all these agencies have also deployed their personnel at the terminal in readiness for the commencement of international operations, while the interior ministry had already accorded MMA2 the status of an entry point into the country.
The statement reads: “We don’t have any issue with parking space for aircraft. That is a false allegation. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has given us the authorisation to commence regional operations, but we still need other approvals from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). And we have complied with all the requirements set by NCAA. These areas cover safety, security and operations audit. We have invested huge sum for the commencement of the regional operations for the past six months. We have signed the agreement with FAAN since last year.”
Also reacting to the reported plans by an airline to move its operations from the terminal to the General Aviation Terminal due to purported high charges, the company denied that no airline was planning to move out of the terminal. It insisted that no airline will likely vacate such an excellent facility and good service at the MMA2; hardly would any contemplate subjecting itself to the sub-standard service that currently obtains at the GAT, being run by FAAN.
The company also explained that its current passenger processing fee was approved by the Federal Government and that it does not have the authority to increase its charges arbitrarily.
It further stated: “It should be noted that we only charge for passengers processing. And there has not been any increment in the charges in the last four years, despite the serious devaluation in the value of the naira and the peculiar nature of our facilities, which requires paying their maintenance cost in foreign currency.”
The statement added: “MMA2 still remains the best terminal in Nigeria and any attempt by any airline to relocate to GAT should not be seen as the best option. GAT is clearly in breach of the concession agreement in the first place and, further, such an airline will be exposing itself to a less favourable scenario. The point here is that moving to GAT is not the solution, rather, it is actually a way of killing private initiative. We have been very reasonable. MMA2 has continued to absorb the phenomenal increase in operational cost without passing it on to the airlines and other terminal users.”